Friday, June 11, 2010

Two Years, 400th Post!

For those of you keeping track, we started this blog 2 years ago right after our marriage, and it so happens that this is our 400th post! We've had a lot more fun than I thought possible and unbelievable support in maintaining this blog, and hope to continue as long as what we do is interesting to others. When we get too boring, someone please let us know!

This is my favorite photo of us that I don't think has appeared here - it was taken in the Fall of 2006 when we were recent lovebirds (still are!). It was taken at the Iowa Star Party in Coon Rapids Iowa by our friend Joan Oesper under my direction. The barn we are peering out of was used for the star party talks, but makes a nice rustic background for such a photo.

So yes, this last Monday, while at the Canyon, we celebrated our second anniversary! It was pretty low key, since at the time we were staying in a broken-down dome tent that more resembled a sagging tepee (all our tent poles broke in the center from the excessive heat!), and it had gotten to the point that our air mattress failed to stay inflated for more than a couple hours at a time... However, we did celebrate with a few friends with a 4-star dinner at El Tovar, the 105 year old iconic hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. We arrived a little early for our reservation, and while Melinda and Elinor check out Melinda's current favorite curtain material and did some shopping, the rest of us hung out in the rocking chairs of the side porch. The meal and service were really first rate and had a nice variety of seafood, steaks, and a buffalo special!

While others and I rave about the dark skies at the Grand Canyon Star Party, there is evidence of nearby civilization. Even from the rim, the little commercial establishment of Tusayan 7 miles to the south just outside the Park is pretty visible as a glow to the south - no direct lights, though. A little (ok, a lot) more obnoxious, is the light dome of Las Vegas, 170 miles to the west, under the conjunction of Mars and Regulus with Saturn at upper left. Granted, there were a few clouds that likely made the lights look a little brighter than they normally would have been, but considering that 8 or 10 years ago, the light dome was barely visible, there is a huge change! And surprisingly, the relatively small town of St George, Utah is visible on the right side of the photo, a good 110 miles away! Note also that the walls of the Canyon to the left are lit up by the lights of the hotels and other establishments of Grand Canyon Village.

Shooting towards the north, the lights of the North Rim Lodge can be seen on the horizon, and down in the bottom of the Canyon, Phantom Ranch Campground is aglow. Faintly visible to the right is the light dome of Page, Arizona about 75 air miles away - pretty good for a city of 7,000.

But talk about your distant glows, visible to the upper left of the North Rim Lodge is the Double Cluster in Perseus, 7000 light years distant. But we're not finished yet - just to the right of the light dome of Page, right off the horizon is the distant glow of the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light years away!

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