Note -- you have reached the original astrophotographs.com website. Thanks very much for visiting. Logo contact information has been updated (i.e. we moved to Taos, NM) as below:
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: taosastronomer.com/
"Under the Night Sky",
the astrophotographs.com newsletter!
Greiner's astrophotographs.com "Under the Night Sky"
Welcome to the
third edition of astrophotographs.com 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 astrophotographs.com, 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
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
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
All images and
narratives copyright Willis Greiner, all rights reserved.
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