Saturday, September 27, 2008

Its Full Of Stars!

Dean blogging from Dodgeville, Wisonsin visiting friends David and Joan Oesper here! Had an uneventful trip up - took some curvy backroads to get here and still had a travel time of just over 3 hours. Lots of cows, horses and the beginnings of fall colors.

It was a busy schedule - a quick walk to a waterfall in Governor Dodge State Park, dinner at a chinese restaurant, astronomy club meeting (with pie! - celebrating their second anniversary), then a short trip out of town to an observatory David and friends put together.

Empire Ranch Observatory is carved out of a farmers cornfield about 15 miles south of town and has nice skies. There were avout 15 observers looking through the 10" scope they have in the dome, as well as some big binoculars, smaller scopes and lots of green laser pointers. The picture shows one of the green beams pointed skyward, with the big dipper just over the dome, Polaris at the top of the picture, and constellations Hercules and Corona Borealis to the left. After a return about midnight, we got back to David and Joan's and sat thru the recorded first presidential candidate debate. We finally got to bed about 3am...

The state park is worthy of note - it is really in a pretty area with hills and canyons with running streams. This area wasn't glaciated during the last ice age and the landscape and rocks are significantly different from just the couple hundred miles distance to the Chicago area. Interesting though, many of the plants were familiar to what we've been observing in the local forest preserve. We pointed out some of the mushrooms we documented a few days ago and the berry clusters of the pitcher plant. The falls were not running a lot, but was fun to hike along the burbling brook. I believe we return here again saturday night for a public star party.

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