wedding bands wedding bands

how to travel with a smile

the [perfectly calm] adventures of david-andrew

saturn day

We were watching a NOVA documentary one night called The Pluto Files. It’s about Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson revisiting the findings that led him to declare that Pluto is no longer a planet. He also visits the birthplace of Clyde Tombaugh (discovered Pluto) to meet his detractors.
This documentary mentions the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Pilot and I looked at each other at the end and nearly simultaneously declared we should visit the observatory. So we did.

The grounds of the observatory are pleasant and woodsy. Being there reminded me of so many school breaks spent at summer camp.

We took a tour of the Pluto Discovery Telescope and the Clark Refracting Telescope. The tour hosts at Lowell have some really interesting stories to tell about the telescopes and the drama in the astronomy community (yes, that exists). The hosts are quite interesting themselves. If you are in Flagstaff and go on the Pluto and Mars tours, you will see what I mean. We heard some really great stories that you won’t find in textbooks. Also at Lowell is the television famous Discovery Channel Telescope.

The Percival Lowell Mausoleum

After the tours, it was still daylight. We decided to jaunt over to Sedona for a bit and return for the night sky viewing. We had a great time in Sedona. It is always lovely there. We ran into a warm woman also interested in the stars and talked to her for a while. She seemed quite insightful and told us that our love is “childlike”. I also found some neat rocks to bring home.

That night we returned to Mars Hill to get an awesome view of Saturn through the Clark telescope. There is an excited feeling in the line of star-gazers waiting to get their turn at the telescope. After viewing Saturn, we immediately started talking about how to get a telescope of our own. It was worth the return. It’s difficult to comprehend what you are seeing from so far away. I commented that it looked like someone had put one of those glow-in-the-dark ceiling planets on the lens.
“Yes,” said the completely serious telescope scientist guide, “but it’s real.”

Maybe you can’t get to Flagstaff as easily as we can, but I would encourage you to go to an observatory near you and look at the stars. It will make the stars real for you.

Next trip: We didn’t know it yet, but we would get a 2nd look at Saturn a few days later. This time from Maui!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted in travel by dA on July 11th, 2012 at 12:54 PM.


Previous Post:   Next Post:

3 Replies

  1. We recently went to the observatory at U of A and we also got to see Saturn! I didn’t expect my reaction, but I was giddy after we saw it. I agree – it looks like a decal, but knowing it is real is the exciting part. I loved seeing the rings around it. It was just like in all the photos and books but so much better. We also got to see Mars but it was slightly less intriguing. It was just round with a hint of red. We will be going back sometime to do some more star gazing because… well… it’s amazing!

  2. That’s awesome! I’m so glad you got to see them. We’ll have to come check out that telescope sometime too.

  3. The Pilot Jul 17th 2012

    What a great time – amazing seeing the ‘stars’ up close. We need to do it again!