Thursday, June 10, 2010

While We Were Away...

We've been out of town, thus the lack of posts the last week. The 20th Grand Canyon Star Party started last Saturday, and continues through the 12th. We attended the first 4 nights and it was quite spectacular. My first wife Vicki and I restarted the event (the first version in the '70s was run by John Dobson) in 1991, and after 18 years of my organization, still runs strong under the leadership of Jim O'Connor. In short, 60 of our astro buddies come set up telescopes for the public, and thousands of them get to see spectacular sights of the universe under some of the darkest skies around. The volunteers are great, the public is great, and the Park Service has been extremely supportive of us for the last 2 decades. I am overjoyed it has taken on a life of it's own and I'll continue to attend and support it as it continues into the future.

Anyway, we'll have a couple posts coming up the next couple days as I get a chance to write accompanying text.

BUT, one thing that happened while we were gone, is that an article about the Mirror Lab that featured yours truly came out in the main Phoenix newspaper, the Arizona Republic. About a month or more now, the senior reporter Anne Ryman contacted me through a UA science reporter about doing a story about me and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). After an LA Times article referring to me as the "high priest of glass polishing", I was loathe to get involved again, but Anne and the senior staff at the Mirror Lab were insistent... So anyway, here we go again. Click on this link to go to the paper's site and read the article. There is also a slide show of Mirror Lab photographs here.

My reaction - I like this article a lot better than the LA Times article, but I really dislike being the focus of attention, I guess. It really features me a lot and covers a lot of my background, and kind of skips over the Mirror Lab "team" aspect that I was trying to emphasize, but got left out. Instead of the "high priest" of polishing, I'm now have the "Martha Stewart" fussiness for polishing... Mostly I was sort of glad we were camped out at the Canyon, missing the hubbub of e-mails that sprung up among the University staff and amateur astronomy circles. Knowing the article was appearing Sunday, I did buy a paper at the Canyon, so we got to read it early on. Hopefully my 15 minutes are well behind me now!

1 comment:

Anthony Vodraska and Anita Gilbert said...

What a great article and the pictures really provide a sense of scale of the project you are working on. I especially like the reference to your rural Iowa background. It helps explains your character and values that have sustained you over these many years. Some 38 years ago when we were collecting data points for a Dr. James Van Allen astronomy class project at the University of Iowa, I would venture that, if asked, neither of us would have had a clue as to the paths our lives would take. Your life's work has had a very direct impact on the quality of the instruments that many astronomers use today and discoveries they make.