Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Intrepid Naturalists Meet the Stars

The Orion Nebula, from Wikimedia Commons (be sure you click on the photo to enlarge it--the details are gorgeous)

We attended our long-awaited star party last Saturday night at the Leasburg Dam State Park in Radium Springs, 15 miles north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. I can tell you right now that it was a life-changing event for me.

Really. I will never be the same.

Here are a few of the things that we learned and experienced. I will tell you more over the next week or so.

Thanks to a monk, we were able to observe the heavens through a type of telescope that we could learn to make ourselves

We were able to look through this relatively simple and inexpensive (but large) telescope to a place outside of our own galaxy

We saw the zodiacal light, something that I have never noticed, which is visible with the naked eye

The Orion Nebula, pictured above, is visible through a pair of binoculars (although with much less detail, obviously)

If we were to read a 20-page book on our own universe we would know more about astronomy than the average American

We drove home through the darkness, cold and full of wonder at the miracles that we had seen. Miracles that are there for us all, night after night, if only we take the time to look up from our lives to observe and wonder.

1 comment:

Susan Moorhead said...

"We are stardust, we are golden..." reminded me of the old Joni Mitchell song. I find science so interesting now, I wish I had when I was back in school as a child.