Just a couple days ago I posted about what I thought was a pretty rare piece of stone that over a couple decades (!) I had fashioned and polished into a ball that shows off its pretty colors and internal structure. Literally the next day, my good optics and astronomy buddy Dick e-mailed saying he had one just like it, but bigger! I've been working on a sunset project that carries me past his house, so last night I stopped by for a look. Sure enough, shown at left is the same type "nebulastone" that appeared on my post - even using a piece of the original material as a base like I did! Evidently the material isn't rare, at least in this area. Some of the reading I've done indicates it is found in Mexico near the Sea of Cortez, so with its proximity to Southern Arizona, likely picked up by folks in their travels south of the border...
The neat thing about Dick's piece is that it was made for him by one of the opticians at the Optical Sciences Center (OSC) from back in the "olden days". The bottom of the base is inscribed "To Dick, Leo Elmore, Tucson, AZ 5-26-83". Don't quote me on those last figures, though... Leo was retired by then, and as I started at OSC in '84 and never knew him, he likely turned out this product in his garage, as Dick implies he and another optician were doing lapidary stuff about then. Anyway, it is quite beautiful and bigger (more valuable) than mine!
Of course, you can't go to Dick's without at least being invited to look through a telescope, and since he knew I was coming, had set up a Takahashi 4" APO triplet to look at the moon. With a 3mm focal length eyepiece, it provided over 270X and exquisite views of the skinny moon's craters. Shown at right is an image I'd taken in twilight with the TEC 140 an hour earlier in twilight (before stopping at Dick's) at full camera resolution with a nicely comparable view.
You'll shortly be seeing what I've been working on at sunsets, but sometimes it isn't always about the conclusions, but the little stops along the way - this time especially!