Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cochise's Head

Last January, we posted about Arizona Landmarks, and included Cochise's Head - a striking mountain peak that in profile nearly precisely outlines a human head. As we noted then, it is unusual in that the profile holds whether viewed from the north, driving along Interstate 10 near the New Mexico Border, or from the south, particularly from Chiricahua National Monument, 5 or 10 miles to the south. As noted last weekend, we were at the Monument for an informal public star party, and after setting up scopes, we took in the vista of the profile again.

Cochise was perhaps the most famous Apache leaders to resist the settlement of whites in the Southwest. He was born, lived and died in or near the Arizona county that now carries his name. He is also the namesake of a college near Douglas, Arizona. He is a well-known historical figure in Arizona, and should be known to all Americans. Read the bio link above. He was portrayed in many movies, perhaps the best known was Broken Arrow (NOT the '96 film with John Travolta!), starring Jeff Chandler as Cochise, and Jimmy Stewart as his real-life friend Tom Jeffords. It was the first movie sympathetic to Indians, and while the story is fictionalized somewhat, is well worth a watch.

This trip I brought along a small telescope to take some close-up photos of the formation. Those lips! That Nose! That eyebrow! All accurately rendered in stone along with a pair of tall trees as eyelash. The monument is a spectacular place, and the next time we go I'd like to do some hiking and further exploring. It has been a few decades since properly exploring the trails and rock formations there.

I've also always wanted to get a night time exposure with star trails overhead, so tried it after our crowd of star party attendees left for the night. Unfortunately a few clouds started drifting in, but a couple exposures were taken. This is my favorite - the headlights of a car swept over the foreground, lighting some of the trees. This was the last one before the clouds moved in, so lucked out. Be sure to click on the images for a larger view!

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