Saturday, January 06, 2018

A Party!

We have zero cell service here at Davis Mountain State Park, but there is an occasional breeze that brings a wifi connection. With patience we looked up McDonald Observatory to check hours and prices for tours and whatnot. There are two after-hours events. The second that starts at 7PM and lasts for approximately 2 hours includes telescope viewing. They recommend reserving your spots in advance, and now we can say, yes, this is a good idea. Here we are in January and there were about 70 people there with a capacity of about 100. We drove over to the observatory in the morning, purchased our tickets, then came back to camp for a nice hike of about 4 miles. Most of the hikes listed on the maps boast amazing views, and since most of them appear to take hikers up on high ridges, I would imagine this is probably true. The Skyline Drive hike definitely did.

I was excited to go to the PARTY. Anne just laughed at me. We arrived early instead of fashionably late. Finally, a woman directed all the meandering people to walk to the amphitheater. The speaker in the amphitheater first told us all the do's and don't's, specifically and most importantly, NO LIGHTS, even those LEDs on children's shoes. Later, we witnessed a child with these bright lights in the telescope area... It was truly annoying. If you ever get to go to this program, don't be that parent!

In the amphitheater, the speaker pointed out specific stars and constellations. He explained why even though we are IN the Milky Way, we can see it across the sky. He explained that everything we can see with the naked eye is also part of the Milky Way with the exception of a fuzzy blob that is the Andromeda Galaxy. He was funny and told a story and gave an explanation as to why the constellations often don't look anything like the objects for which they are named... except Orion, of course.

People were free to skip this portion and go directly to the telescopes, but we stayed as most people did and listened, laughed, and learned a lot. The two large telescopes we set to objects and we climbed a step ladder to look through the eyepiece. There were an additional three very large, but much smaller than the main permanent telescopes. Each station had a very knowledgeable guide to tell you all the factoids about the object you were seeing.

Overall, this was well worth the $12 ticket.

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