Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pie Town

We drove out to Pie Town - that's really the name of a town in New Mexico.  There are about four restaurants that serve pies, but only one seemed open.  What luck for us!  This is Janine and Lori, two delightful women who run "The Gatherin' Place" where they serve the most amazing pies.  I had blueberry with vanilla ice cream.  After they served us, the women came by to chat with us, as they did with all the customers in the small restaurant.  I am not sure what was more fun - the pie, or the conversations with the owners!  It was a magical day meeting them.  Outside the restaurant they have this 1940's truck which tends to attract visitors.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Moonset at the VLA

OK, so this is really cool!  We received permission to be on the grounds of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array Radio Telescope tonight.  This is an astounding telescope!  It consists of 27 individual radio dishes arranged in a "Y" shape that are moved on railroad tracks.  The tracks of each leg are 13 miles long and the arrangement of the antennae are changed several times a year.  Sometimes the dishes are close, and sometimes they stretch out for their full length.  I will show you some more photographs in another post, but to say these devices are impressive is an understatement.  We wanted to photograph one dish against the Zodiacal light and we were successful.  But I will show you some images of the dishes in daylight.  It was frosting on the cake to arrive and be setting up, and then seeing the thin crescent moon setting in the distance.  A magical evening!

Zodiacal Light

We are under some of the darkest skies that I have ever seen, here in Magdalena, NM.  Our friend John Briggs, who I have known for years now, lives here on 80 acres some distance from town.  He was determined that we would get to see the Zodiacal Light, which is caused by sunlight scattered by particles of space dust, and can only be seen about an hour and a half after the sun has set, IF you are in pristine dark skies.  The slightest amount of light pollution will make this invisible.  It is a stunning thing to see, perched on top of a hill, with the entire sky filled with brilliant stars overhead.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Night Sky Photography Class

OK, here's the deal.  I have found a wireless connection which I think I can continue to use, I hope...  But if a post is missing, please don't worry, it will be that I can't access wireless to post.  Yesterday Stan gave a Night Sky Photography lecture to about 25 people from an astronomy club in Albuquerque.  After the lecture was over we drove to a dark sky site outside of town, and practiced some of the things that he talked about.  I was going around helping people with their first efforts with their own cameras.  But I did stop to take a picture or two before it got too dark.  Here are people with red lights - both flashlights and headlamps - working on taking pictures, with help from both Stan and I, and from other experienced club members. We use red lamps so that we don't loose our night vision.  I think this is a really cool photo, and something different, for me.

Off The Grid

This pretty much says it all.  I will be back to Albuquerque to fly out on Wednesday morning, but probably won't post anything until I get home  It feels SO strange not to have internet and email!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Moon, Venus, and Mercury at Dawn

What an astounding start to our day today!  We woke a bit after 4 AM, then drove over to pick up Rush, our friend who put together the photo exhibit, then drove about 8 miles out of town, up route 66 to a hill overlooking Albuquerque.  It was dark and we were looking to view the five planets that are visible all at once, about an hour before sunrise.  What I forgot about was that there was a crescent moon, and that, along with two planets was the star of the show!  What a spectacular dawn, to see the moon rise, and Mercury shortly after.  But man, were we COLD!  The temperature was in the low 20's and we were outside for over an hour.  It took several hours to warm up.  But it was all worth it, because seeing this all in person was just sublime!

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Duke is in Town!

The Duke is in town, and he's packing heat - what looks like a Colt .45 revolver - and he's not asking any questions!  Fortunately, the gentleman eating lunch has no idea that the Duke is behind him.  We had lunch in this famous restaurant in Albuquerque, and the owner is a collector of all kinds of Western paintings, including a number of John Wayne.  This is a really cool place to visit, the food is really delicious, and the art collection is wonderful.