Looking Up

We had a nice leisurely breakfast at our little cabin and then decided we would just explore around the immediate area today. I threw in a load of wash, we filled our water bottles and set out for the local Visitor Center for information about the locale.

2016-09-10-11-17-41-1At the Visitor Center we found a number of interesting places to visit, and since we were on that side of town already, we went up Mars Hill to Lowell Observatory. We intended to just check it out in the daylight an return after dark, but we ended up spending the entire afternoon there! It houses the 120 year old, 22 and a half foot long, 24 inch refracting telescope that discovered Pluto and the rings of Uranus. 2016-09-10-12-46-17We were escorted around the observatory grounds and given heady explanations of the discoveries and continuing work of astronomers to this day. Then we were allowed to go into the observatory that houses “The Clark,” that massive telescope that Lowell brought to this place. It made me feel pretty small. We learned all about how Percival Lowell had it built to his specifications and how the team of scientists literally “MacGivered” the structure that houses it. 2016-09-10-12-30-33We were invited to return after dark with the lure that if the skies were clear, we might be able to take a view through it.

That settled it! We were coming back after dark. But in the meantime, there were issues with a faulty “go pro” that needed some assistance from someone knowledgeable at Best Buy, and the always necessary late afternoon lunch / dinner.

We were delighted that the Best Buy was close and the glitch easy to fix. So, we just crossed the street and enjoyed a Sizzler meal before making our next stop, Walnut Canyon.

2016-09-10-16-44-04We arrived at Walnut Canyon just a little too late to really be able to explore it well, so we must go back before the week is over. The canyon was home to cliff dwellers between 600 and 1400 AD, and the dwellings are still visible and still impressive.

As the park closed and the sun drew long shadows, we drove into Flagstaff and walked the town until darkness fell. Time to return to the observatory and see if it were possible to look through that massive telescope.

2016-09-10-17-57-30Once again, the guides were very knowledgeable, and one man lecturing on the galaxies was completely beyond my comprehension. But, he did say one of the telescopes was open and spotting the moon. We were invited to climb the hill and take a look if we wished. Well we certainly did!

So up the hill we climbed and through the smaller telescope we looked. Now I felt even smaller – looking up from this earth into the heavens and SEEING the craters of the moon with my own eye. Pretty amazing, I’m here to tell you.’

2016-09-10-18-09-43While we wanted so badly to view the heavens through “The Clark,” the guide said that her supervisor had not given permission for it to open because of the partially cloudy sky. We could only guess that it was a massive endeavor to open the giant doors of the dome so the telescope could view the heavens.┬áStill, we had seen the moon! We actually saw the craters of the moon. Bold as I was, I went back and asked if I could take a picture through the telescope. And, here it is. 2016-09-10-18-18-34-1It looks like every other picture of the surface of the moon you’ve ever seen – but this one is exactly as I saw it!!!

Leaving, we decided to go back on a clear evening in the coming week so we might be able to see the galaxies through that massive telescope. And, we will.

It was quite a thrilling day for sticking close to home and not knowing what we were going to do when we started out. Just don’t forget to look up!2016-09-10-18-24-24