Saturday, May 23, 2009

Greetings From Sunny California!

We made it safely to California Wednesday afternoon, though our hotel in San Diego didn't provide Internet access. This morning we left the seaside and headed up to the mountains near Big Bear for the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference. Rather than the traditional camping, we are staying at Motel 6, so finally feel like we're in touch with the world again with e-mail and the beloved Blog!

San Diego and the Beach were great! We stayed in one of the regular haunts of Vicki and mine from years ago - Diamond Head Inn (where Diamond Street meets the Pacific Ocean). The view on the left is literally about 30 yards from the hotel, and taken a few minutes after we arrived. Melinda was just coming off shift when we left Tucson, so was very short on sleep, but the changing vistas of California (which she has never visited) kept her awake most of the trip. We hit the beach by mid-morning Thursday, and with lots of sun, we both resembled lobsters by the end of the day, even with the floppy hats we wore. Melinda was expecting to do some swimming, but didn't realize the water off CA was about 15 degrees colder than the Caribbean waters she was used to. She allowed it to get up to her knees, but that was enough. The sounds and smells of surf was great, though.

It took about 3 hours from beach to Big Bear and the conference. Crowds seem smaller than previous years, but from the moment we arrived we saw lots of friends from past years. Melinda was afraid she wouldn't know anyone, but within 20 minutes saw a number of people she knew from Tucson. You can tell she is well on her way to becoming an astronomer - she enjoyed the vendor tables full of telescope gear more than I did! As darkness grew, I took a few snapshots of Alan Guthmiller preparing his 20" telescope for the evening observing. With fewer vendors, the "telescope Field" was again available for telescopes, but there were much fewer of them than in the past. Perhaps tomorrow once the weekend arrives.

The highlight, perhaps, of the evening was a brilliant "Iridium Flare". These are reflections of the sun off of an antenna on the Iridium spacecraft. If you are on the right path on the earth, it directly reflects the sun to you and it can become many times the brightness of Venus. Tonight's was as bright as they can get, about -8 magnitude. My time exposure caught the flash as it passed through the constellation Corona Borealis (Northern Crown).

The conference starts in earnest tomorrow - some talks that look very good, and of course, the swap meet starts at 8am, and more observing tomorrow night, so looks to be a full day. More later!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice shot of Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach