Telescopes, Astrophotos and Losing Sally

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November 11, 2005: I love this time of year that brings yellow, green and orange leaves swirling and dancing to the ground. I never rake my leaves because then I would miss the special crunch-swish sounds of walking and kicking my way through them. I enjoy the apple-crisp mornings, the big yellow harvest moons, the harvest itself with the appearance of every kind of winter squash in the supermarket, begging to be made into bowls of steaming hot soup for a cold night. I delight in the sounds and smells of Fall (especially the incense-like aroma of the grasses in the fields), the influx of birds from the north. I like the anticipation of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, with our thoughts of how spiritually and emotionally rich we are and how thankful for such a cornucopia of blessings that we enjoy. One has a mysterious feeling at this time of  year that life is as it is supposed to be, rather than what it sometimes is.

Lets start with something spectacular today. On November 4th I got up shortly before dawn to prepare to leave for Mitch and Tresa's home and a Star Party to view Mars and whatever other beauties we could see. I am so glad I am a "morning person," otherwise I would miss such a sight as this one. This is dawn at the Lair on November 4th, 2005, just as taken with the camera, with no enhancement or improvement:

sunrise at The Lair
Sunrise at The Lair

We had a delightful weekend with Mitch and Tresa. For once, no work had to be done on computers, the entire weekend was for the pleasure of being together and enjoying a special activity. Unless one has owned one of the new telescopes, one can have little idea of the large amount of work and preparation necessary on the part of the owner of the scopes so that the rest of us can enjoy the sights. I want to thank Mitch once again for all the labor so we could enjoy ourselves.  The first night, Mitch set up  his medium sized scope:

Mitch and scope
Mitch aligning the telescope, supervised by Nicci and Natasha

We had fun looking at Mars and its peachy color that could be seen with the naked eye. We also looked at Saturn. And then the
next night Mitch took out his big telescope. I call it the behemoth (something of monstrous size or power. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary). Do you think I named it well?

Mitch and large scope
Mitch working on his large scope.

This is the one I like, the big one that lets me see so many things. Among my favorites are nebulae and star clusters. We did look at the Orion Nebula and it was beautiful. Here is another shot, this time of Tresa enjoying the sights and Farris waiting his turn, with Tasha in the foreground, trying to steal the show.

family and large scope

Wow! It's beautiful!

Both nights that we were there I stayed up as long as I could with Mitch and Tresa--they always outstay me, but Farris is always the first to fold. I made it to two one night and nearly three AM the next night. The enjoyment of being outside on a temperate night and the excitement of contemplating the heavens keeps me going. After we had looked our fill, Mitch took the following pictures.


Mars
Photo by Mitch Mitchell

We could clearly see the markings and the white of the polar ice at the upper right edge. The next picture is of one of my favorite planets to view, because it always presents a spectacular form:


Saturn
Photo by Mitch Mitchell

I hope those of you  who take the time to visit the Lair Log have enjoyed sharing this Star Party with us! Again, thanks to Mitch and Tresa for making it possible.

November 1, 2005: Mitch and Tresa came down for a weekend and we went to Marble Falls for lunch. Mitch suggested I take my cameras. I privately thought "Take my cameras to Marble Falls? Why would I want to do that? I am not into photographing the urban scene right now." but I took my cameras and I am glad I did. Mitch took some great pictures. He got some of a bird that is rather elusive and usually difficult to photograph, but this one was posing nicely for him that day:

bittern
American Bittern
Photo by Mitch Mitchell

The American bittern is fairly common but because they usually are found in the tall vegetation of fresh-water and brackish marshes and because they are most active at dusk and at night, it is difficult to get pictures of them. This one was feeding in a stream in a park area in Marble Falls in mid-afternoon  and Mitch was able to take a number of pictures of it.

We then went to another part of the park and found some domestic ducks. Here is one of my favorite pictures taken that day:

domestic duck
Domestic Duck named "Old Blue Eyes" by me
Photo by Mitch Mitchell

My son taught me a lesson that day that I seem to have trouble learning. Doesn't matter where or why you are going, take a camera!

The eagles have returned to the nesting site, but we have not seen them yet. Others have, but they were not at the nest the day we went looking for them. We will go again next week and hopefully they will be working on the nest--if they decide to use that site again.

I have saved the following for last because it is so difficult for me to write:

sally
Sally
December, 1990--October, 2005

We had to have our little Papillon Sally put down this past week. Her little heart was giving out and she was struggling to breathe.  Sally's registered name was Mylitta Sally Sass and believe me, she was a sassy one. She was named Mylitta as a play on the words My Little, and because that is a species of butterfly and these dogs' ears from the back look like a butterfly, hence the breed name of Papillon, French for butterfly. Papillons are spaniels, bred in Spain and developed in France. She was our untiring companion on the hiking trails and kept us on our toes here at home. She was lively, a highly skilled con artist, and ruled in her domain. Farris and I find this house almost unbearably still, quiet, and EMPTY without you, Sweet Baby.

 

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Last revised: December 16, 2005




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