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Note -- you have reached the original website. Thanks very much for visiting. Logo contact information has been updated (i.e. we moved to Taos, NM) as below:

Willis Greiner
12 Rabbit Valley Road / P.O. Box 1515
El Prado, NM 87529
303-903-8996 or 575-758-3670

You may also want to visit Willis' new astronomy site at:

Welcome to "Under the Night Sky",
the newsletter!

Willis Greiner's "Under the Night Sky"

Third edition


Welcome to the third edition of newsletter! I have been very remiss as to these supposedly semi-regular updates; I notice that the last one was written in April. I'm truly sorry.

On the astronomical front, I have been somewhat active recently. I'm not sure if it's obvious from the web site, but I tend to take photographs in bunches as opposed to in some sort of orderly and steady fashion. I suppose I observe in much the same way. This is a shame, as the nighttime sky always has so much to offer. Also, I believe it may be misinterpreted that I might regularly or even nightly find myself beside the telescope or computer rigorously taking dozens of photos of the heavens. I really wish this was so, but the sad fact is that it is not. My present goal is to establish a permanent observatory in my neighborhood; I'm hoping that the community will accept a proposal to build a small platform and domed permanent observatory which might house the ever-burgeoning electronic gear and astronomical equipment so set-up won't be so tiresome and time-consuming. It could be an excellent asset to the community as well.

Is it possible that all of this technology has moved us away from the basics of observing as opposed to closer to them? I think so. I've written about this previously on, but also have an update here concerning the joy of "just" observing with a group of friends.

Last year I purchased one of those point-and-shoot-aim-itself Meade 3.5-inch telescopes. I wondered at the time why -- perhaps I was just intoxicated by the gimmickry of a self-pointing telescope -- or maybe there was a "larger" reason. As I have been a rafter and river floater for many years, I outfitted the telescope with a waterproof case, etc. (As it turns out, I've given this rig the ultimate test. During an unfortunate "incident" on the Green River last fall, I can attest to the absolute water-proofness of this case. The telescope was literally underwater for 5 minutes!) Anyway, I now bring this rig down the river, and break it out at remote (and dark!) wilderness desert camps along the riverway. What an absolute joy it is to introduce the sky to interested newcomers! We move from object to object rather effortlessly while I (possessed with the gift of gab, if you didn't already notice) pontificate on the various clusters and nebulae. The hand-controller database even has interesting factoids about the objects to add to the babble factor.

Just last weekend my wife Cheryl and I had the pleasure of participating in a similar event in Taos, New Mexico. Friends of ours run the fabulous La Posada de Taos Bed and Breakfast there. We scheduled an astronomy night and again set up both the small self-aiming telescope and the larger and more basic 8-inch Celestron scope. I wrote a sort of study guide, which can be accessed from this text link or below. The important thing was the pleasure all of us derived from the experience. First we went through some of the major Summer constellations (again, see the guide) and then went on to some deep-sky objects. It is such a wonderful experience to witness all of the various comments and observations from such a diverse group of people. Often the children and young people ask the most profound questions; I got into a great dialog with a delightful young wife and mother. She volunteered that she had no idea until after they had been married that her husband believed very strongly in the existence of extra-terrestrial life. "What do you think of that," she queried. I noted that it seemed arrogant to me that we might think we are the only ones; also I said that if somehow we found out without question that we WERE in fact the only ones I would find that to be the saddest moment of my life. What a fantastic interplay of ideas. We moved to observe some galaxies; the conversation centered then on distance and time. "We were, in fact, looking back in time some 50 million years" as we viewed a relatively close galaxy, I noted. This concept brought forth some additional great comments. Once a dear friend of mine revealed that she always thought that all the stars were "sort of the same" but when she looked closer and saw the different colors she felt she had been introduced to "the aspect of divinity." Beautiful!

I suppose my whole point to this rant is that we all really need to take some time to just sit back and look. It can be just laying on the beach out in the Green River wilderness (or anywhere) without any optical aid; it can be casually gazing through an automatic scope at a social gathering; and, of course, it can be observing more seriously through a professional-type instrument. Whatever your level of interest, I deeply believe in nighttime sky observing as food for the soul. As a matter of fact, I demand that you now stop reading this laborious rave and go outside and look up! Let your eyes become accustomed to the dark and just enjoy the nighttime show. We will all be a little more sane and complete for it. Truly, "keep looking up."

Dark skies,

Willis is the link to my previous rave involving waking up under the very dark skies of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. is the link to the fine La Posada de Taos Bed and Breakfast. I highly recommend La Posada for its friendliness and hospitality, privacy and wonderful location in Taos, New Mexico. A must visit! is the link to the "study guide" as indicated above. It provides not so bad a template for a public astronomy night in early fall at mid-northern latitudes.

Contact us at 303.903.9886


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