The Spyglass Network (SGN)

The Spyglass Network (SGN)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Took the Gare Challenge

The challenge was simple, yet difficult. Spend 15 uninterrupted minutes under the stars, doing NOTHING ELSE. Alone. All 15. Just looking at the stars. And then write down your impressions. And the guarantee? Well .. you would remember it all your life. How is this possible though, how could 15 minutes of NOTHING be memorable? Maybe its because there IS no nothing in our lives anymore. No reflection. No meditation. No listening. Really listening.

I hadnt planned on taking the challenge as I went out in the predawn night on Wednesday, April 18. It was cloudy, depressingly so, but as I walked toward the barn aimlessly I looked up suddenly .. and it was clearing! Right then I knew .. it was challenge time. I have an observatory llooking west where I am wont to watch the sun set whenever I can. Its my stonehenge, I watch the sun go down far south and far north throughout the year. It sits under a 30 foot pine I planted as a baby 20 years ago. It has a clear view of the horizon. My observatory is a chair. A chair I sit in and observe the heavens. Does that surprise you? My eyes are spyglasses, therefore my observatory can be a chair. To be continued

Distant sounds

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Time Traveller by Patrick Thibault (from Issue 22)

As of late, I have found myself forgetful and wondering what happened a few days ago, or even the week before. Unable to place my finger on any cause or factor, I stumble through each moment in hope of remaining somewhat conscious of my time. Time seems to be the key element involved in my disorientation. There are so many types of time, especially if you have any interest in astronomy: solar time, Greenwich Mean Time, sidereal time, and lunar time to name just a few, not to mention our Central, Eastern, or Mountain time.

I have learned that in order to discover the source of a problem, questions must be asked. I ask now, what time is it? My watch indicates that it is 10:15 AM, April 12, 1995. It is approximately 22 days past the first day of spring, however, there is fresh snow covering the landscape and clouds prevent detection of the sun. Outside of my south facing window, Jack Frost has created a handsome winterscape, but it is no longer winter. Spring, with its greening, rain, and Daylight Savings Time is here. And I know from looking at the night sky only a week ago some of the constellations of Spring were seen: Leo, Arcturus in Bootes, and Spica rising in the northeast. But my most recent S&T told of planetary positions in May, which I had received at the end of March, possibly this was the source of my confusion. Could it be that my reality, which consists of many time frames, be unadjusted to magazine time?

After patting myself on the back for such brilliant scientific inquiry, I began to go through my file of magazines. Indeed, I found an association among all astronomy literature. Astronomy Magazine followed S&T’s delivery rate, they were ahead of time as well, May in March, January in November. Even SGN, when I first joined, delivered May in March. There appeared to be a common time element - Magazine Time (MT). I called local Astronomy club members to see if they too received astronomy materials in MT. The pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place, but the mechanism was still unknown. I had read ‘The Time Machine’ by HG Wells, so it was possible. Could the postal service have a time machine? Certainly with the costs of stamps going up over time there was reason to believe that a machine of this sort would not be cheap.

Please fellow SGN’ers. I would appreciate a word in the mail (but do not date it) if you experience this time disorientation as well. Perhaps only some of us are susceptible to this oddity, but I feel that I’m probably not alone.

Thank you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Take Your Time by Brent Landry (from Issue 16)

As I sit gazing at the ghostly arm of the Milky Way reaching across the heavens, I ponder one of life’s greatest mysteries -t hat of human nature. The guests are gone now, along with their disenchanted spirits. I, to say the least, am perplexed. As usual the guests arrived enthusiastically, speaking of how relaxing an evening under the stars can be. They approached the telescope prepared to explore the celestial frontier and thus began the evening.

At first we observed at a relaxed pace, reeling in the romance of the night sky. The guests soon found themselves caught up in the moment and begin asking to see more and more. First this, then that, then something else. Observing quickly took on a furious pace, the telescope rocking on its axis as it swung to and fro and the focuser grew warm. So went the evening, until the guests finally grew weary. Gone was the romance, gone was the enchantment. The guests were somewhat disillusioned, claiming there was little left to see in the night sky. Did this come as a surprise to me? No, it didn‘t. In truth, little really had they observed at all other than a continous spinning of the scope, accompanied by a rapid succession of eyepieces. Indeed, if they would have taken the time to focus their attention as well as the eyepiece, they would have found the fulfillment that they sought

So here I am. Gazing at the stars yet pondering human nature. I ask myself, would one rush to the bottom of a glass of fine wine? Or impatiently await the end of soul stirring music? Would one not rather enjoy with leisure each morsel of fillet mignon. Or bask in the sun at springs first warm breath? Why then would one rush through an evening of observing. In doing so, one misses all the detail that must be paid for with patience. And one loses the awe and curiosity that moves us to strive deeper into astronomy. Without this awe and curiosity, we lose not only interest, but also our sense of adventure. Indeed, without awe and curiosity the scientific spirit would surely die.

Let us then take our time at the eyepiece. We are explorers, and to explore effectively we must do so slowly. In order to further my appreciation for the image being observed, I reflect that the photons I am seeing have traveled light years in order to be collected and funneled into my very soul by the small portal into which I gaze. In fact, were it not for my small telescope waiting patiently to collect those photons, they would be lost. Wasted. Spilled upon the ground like a glass of fine wine, never again to sweeten the visual palate.