Fernbank Observatory, 2007 Aug 16
At left is the astronomer who gave the presentation at the planetarium and then was the sky guide at the observatory.
H.o.p. loves the atmosphere. So do I. Perhaps because astronomers are going to like what they’re doing (or they seem to), and perhaps because the people who drop by the observatory are, for the most part, going to be there because of a genuine fascination. And so there is a friendly unspoken sense of, “Oh, you’re here, as well, to see…”
The night was hazy so only a few visitors came through. Which makes the experience more intimate. Clouds kept drifting and obscuring. The astronomer did his best to find things to look at. Among them, Jupiter, Arcturus, Antares.
We don’t provide interesting conversation or questions for the astronomer. Our interest is poetic. Though we’re ready to try to absorb any technical information, any intelligence the astronomer has to share, and enjoy it all, we’re laymen who nod our heads, yes, yes.
A brother-in-law of a great grandfather of mine (the one with the glass eye) was interested in astronomy and wrote some articles, including one on the astronomy of Shakespeare that appeared in an issue of “Science” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He wanted to be an astronomer but illness got in the way of that dream.
“Isn’t it a pretty color?” the astronomer said of Antares. “Like a garnet color?”
“Yes, it’s beautiful,” I agreed. And it was. A garnet with blazes of orange.
The astronomer leads and we follow. We’re just there for the ride.
Plus we want H.o.p. to grow up with an eye on the sky. To know that it’s out there beyond the city’s light pollution. And, as I said, he likes it. He likes the atmosphere. He likes climbing up and looking through the telescope at the planets and stars. He likes it that an astronomer is his guide. He likes being able to answer the occasional question. When we were watching the show in the planetarium the astronomer asked who the strong man in the sky would be, whose name began with an H, H.o.p. enjoyed being able to call out, “Hercules!”
I wandered around taking shots. At the end, as we were the only ones left, the astronomer asked if I’d like the lights on. All my shots were without flash, even after the lights were turned on. Thus the astronomer’s face is a blur. Post processing, I worked to try to give the image a hint of the mystery I felt surrounding observatories when I saw them on television as a child, or in movies. Plus a touch of a clinical straight-forward shot embedded.
“When I look through the telescope, I feel like I’m flowing up up up up,” H.o.p. says.
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