Make No Small Plans. Dream No Small Dreams.

1 Sep

While Robin was finding out she was about to be forced out of her home, I was busy voluntarily spending a weekend in the great outdoors.  I was so busy that I missed Robin’s call due to lack of service and if she hadn’t decided to camp on the coast she would have been left abandoned and friendless in her time of need.  Sorry!  Everything’s turned out alright so I don’t feel too bad.

Since I failed to be a good friend, the least I can do is to be a decent blogger and share my own weekend adventures.

After work on Friday, I headed up to Mt. Palomar.  Palomar is known primarily for its observatory, home to a 200 inch telescope.  It was the largest telescope in the world up until 1992, when a 387-inch telescope in Hawaii overtook the title.  Even though it’s no longer the largest telescope, it’s still well-used.  It’s been in operation since 1949 and was so perfectly constructed that the spare gears they built at the time of its creation are still hanging on a wall.  They even built a lab in front of the gears.  They’re so confident that they won’t be replacing those gears anytime soon, they basically blocked them into place.

When Science deems a place so perfect for viewing the stars, it’s no wonder amateur astronomers with normal sized scopes flock to the location.  We were lucky to spend two nights sharing the telescopes of many SoCal stargazers.  You can see a small variety of the telescopes they brought below.  The black and gold one sported a 25-inch mirror… that’s an inch larger than one housed in an observatory above.

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Saturday morning, we hiked up to the observatory.  I still find all the signs warning of the dangers surrounding California hikers a  little over the top.

Warnings

Dead Out

Mountain Lion Spotted

Caution

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(Conveniently located right next to our camp site!)

Fortunately, despite the doomsday predictions, the most fearsome beasts we encountered were hoards of mosquitoes. As annoying as they were, at least they didn’t have the plague.

A thunderstorm (which never hit our campsite) interfered in our ability to take a tour on Saturday, but we were able to drive up on Sunday and try again.

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Inside the observatory was a little cooler than the 100 degree heat outside. They keep the temperature at the predicted night temperature at all times to reduce the amount of stress from temperature changes on the telescope. In a place where the winter evening temperatures can drop to the teens, I’m sure it gets pretty chilly. The interior is pretty sparse, but that’s probably because they need all that room for their giant telescope.

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There are several other telescopes on Mt. Palomar, including this innocent looking doohickey:

Pluto Killer

Yeah, see it all shy hiding in the trees? You know why its hiding? Because it’s a murderer on the lam. This 48″ telescope is where Mike Brown downgraded Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet. Other telescopes in the area discovered the first evidences of dark matter, track weather on Saturn’s moon, and search for gamma ray bursts, but the nerdily named Samuel Oschin Telescope had to go destroy our childhoods.

I may be bitter, but it’s hard to stay jaded when you can look up and witness a sky full of light.

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George Ellery Hale, the 200-inch Hale Telescope’s founder, built the largest telescope in the world four times. You can spot one of his favorite sayings all around the observatory.

Make no small plans.  Dream no small dreams.

When someone has a track record like Hale, I’d listen to his motivational quotes.

~April

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