David Thompson
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March 14, 2018

Comments

Jen

That's lovely.

David

‘Tis rather.

Jacob

"yeah way" :-)

Captain Nemo

I enjoyed that immensely. Beautiful.

David

It makes a pleasing change from usual peering-into-the-heads-of-bedlamites posts.

R. Sherman

It makes a pleasing change from usual peering-into-the-heads-of-bedlamites posts.

Funny. No one was angry or protesting anything. No one was complaining about privilege or oppression. Just people gazing in wonder and being grateful that someone took the time to provide the experience.

David

Just people gazing in wonder and being grateful that someone took the time to provide the experience.

Yes.

Fred Baumann

...what Captain Nemo said. And Debussy was the perfect choice, too.

Fred Baumann

It also confirms my conviction that "Oh my God!" is often just the shortest worshipful prayer in our language...

Captain Nemo

It makes a pleasing change from usual peering-into-the-heads-of-bedlamites posts.

Indeed. A most welcome change from the usual blue haired, effeminate Mixter of indeterminate gender and sexuality, but very determinate weight, railing that its university campus toilets are somehow oppressing them because they're both too small and the wrong colour, or something to that effect.

Alice

Teared up. :-)

David

It also confirms my conviction that “Oh my God!” is often just the shortest worshipful prayer in our language...

Guy talking on phone: “I’m looking at the Moon, hold on, okay?” [Pause.] “Oh my God.”

MC

A wonderful and beautiful little film, that made me feel better about, well, everything.

Thank you very much Alex & Wylie. Thank you very much for posting David.

Me too, Alice.

David

[ Slides box of tissues along bar. ]

David

Teared up. :-)

I suppose the thing is, they’re not just seeing the Moon in a bit more detail than usual – it’s not just about seeing craters and shadows and stuff. The people who stop to look, and go “Oh my God,” are also, I should think, getting a brief sense of… proportion.

Ten

I suppose the thing is, they’re not just seeing the Moon in a bit more detail than usual – it’s not just about seeing craters and shadows and stuff. The people who stop to look, and go “Oh my God,” are also, I should think, getting a brief sense of… proportion.

As a kid I had exactly that sense during my first peer through a telescope. Suddenly a flat bright disc is an immense pitted sphere, of unimaginable mass, somehow hanging there overhead, silently and weightlessly. The whole experience becomes quite serious in your young age of men in the moon and cheese and jumping cows and whatnot. No small thing, that sense.

Always wanted to build a telescope; never did. The young man has himself a substantial reflector there. Wonder what it is.

A lovely film, barkeep.

Surreptitious Evil

Televue Ethos eyepieces too. Very nice.

Fred the Fourth

As I commented on the Vimeo site, back in the 70s I did exactly that, with the San Jose Amateur Astronomers. Always a thrill to see and hear folk's reaction, but with a little note of sadness that so many grew up without seeing the sky.
Let me highly recommend a little book by a famous amateur comet discoverer, Leslie Peltier, called "Starlight Nights". His depiction of growing up on a farm in Ohio is marvelous in so many ways.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Peltier

Governor Squid

A dear friend of mine took up astronomy several years ago, and has been diligently collecting his Messier list. I've accompanied him on a number of trips, because my love of camping far, far away from people is very compatible with his need to get far, far away from city lights.

I come from a Physics background, and have plenty of friends in Astro. I've been dazzled by hundreds and hundreds of photographs, from raw images up to the heavily edited stuff you'll find in coffee table books, and still there's something magical about seeing these objects in real time, with your own eye. Even when it's just a little dumbbell-shaped smudge against the backdrop of space, it's exciting in a way that photographs just can't capture.

The funny thing is that my friend is so often trying to capture his objects before moonrise, while I can't wait to take another look at the giant stone in the sky. I hope I never grow tired of it.

I can't wait 'til he decides to start on the Southern Hemisphere objects. I've been brushing up on my Spanish in anticipation.

neal

I would be a poorer man without the telescope. Saturn's rings. The transit of the moons of Jupiter. Pro tip- a Hydrogen Beta filter will show the solar flares.

One can track ISS and keep an eye on the Russians.

And spy on the neighbors. Astronomy is very old school.

Fred the Fourth

"friends in Astro"
My brother in law was working on a PhD in Astrogeophysics back in the 70s. (He did some of the first work on computer-based atmosphere models, studying Mars.)
One day he and a few other grad students were sitting around the High Altitude Observatory, near Boulder CO, musing about careers. Someone pointed out that there were about 50 good jobs in that field, worldwide, and about 50 students in that field right there in Colorado.
Somewhat later my BIL got a degree in Electrical Engineering. Rational guy, that man. Also, newly married.

R. Sherman

I've owned a few telescopes and liked them, but I've found I keep going back to a very good pair of binoculars for sky-gazing. (Celestron 15 X 170. A tripod helps a lot. Less than $100.00.)

David

Suddenly a flat bright disc is an immense pitted sphere, of unimaginable mass, somehow hanging there overhead, silently and weightlessly… No small thing, that sense.

As Governor Squid noted, the experience is quite unlike that of looking at photographs or CG recreations. It reminded me of an episode of the BBC’s excellent 1999 documentary series The Planets, the episode titled Star, which captures several historical “Eureka!” moments. Notably, when Angelo Secchi, the Vatican’s chief astronomer, realised that the blinding disc in the daytime sky is another one of those tiny, twinkling specks seen at night, only much, much closer. What follows from that realisation is… well, no small thing.

Ten

I come from a Physics background, and have plenty of friends in Astro. I've been dazzled by hundreds and hundreds of photographs, from raw images up to the heavily edited stuff you'll find in coffee table books, and still there's something magical about seeing these objects in real time, with your own eye.

For me the daunting thing for backyard astronomy is the exponentially advanced field of major mountaintop observatories and orbiting telescopes, the first of which David highlighted very recently. Hubble was but a preliminary stage and what comes next hurls man into the cosmos infinitely further than his little spaceship fantasies probably ever shall.

The field advances so quickly that I'd hazard to predict that the Standard Model - the Lambda-CDM cosmological model of theoretical black holes and big bangism and the tortured placeholders of dark matter and dark energy - will fall sooner rather than later, so sweeping are newer findings. Establishments being what they are, this will take decades to settle but it will settle.

Meanwhile the sights out there are beyond belief or description. Imagine the folks who access that data first, right as it compiles into pictures. Oh my.

Randy

I don't know. The moon is pretty awesome even without magnification.

Pablito

I remember staying at a hotel in California. A place where on the clearest and stillest of nights the Milky Way was so bright that it would reflect on the ocean's surface.
They had set up a powerful telescope and had trained it on Saturn for guests to look at. I had never seen the like, this immense planet hanging there in the black, rings sharply discernable. People use terms like awe-inspiring too readily, but it couldn't be a more perfect term for the reaction of everyone who saw it.
There was a hushed sense of amazement and no little gratitude amongst everyone who looked.

dicentra

I was camping in Canyonlands, Utah, one of the darkest (least light-polluted) places on the planet. I sat my chair out in the road and gawked at the Milky Way arching overhead. When I saw that it stretched from horizon to horizon without washing out it became clear that I was perched on a little ball in space with nothing holding us up.

I had to grip the chair to stop from falling into the sky.

R. Sherman

I had to grip the chair to stop from falling into the sky.

In 2006, we got the kids (then ages 6-14) up at 3:30 AM in Moab to take the trail up to Delicate Arch. We got there an hour before the sun came up and just sat staring at the sky. By sunrise, there were maybe a half-dozen others who'd joined us, but nobody said a word. Truly, a top-ten life experience.

(Another "Top Ten" was the night sky at Great Basin N.P. in eastern Nevada. There are not enough superlatives to describe it.)

David

I had to grip the chair to stop from falling into the sky.

Heh. Cosmic vertigo.

CJ Nerd

" The young man has himself a substantial reflector there. Wonder what it is."

I think it's a Skyliner-250PX or similar:
https://www.telescopehouse.com/telescopes/telescopes-by-brand/brand-skywatcher-telescopes/skyliner-250px-flextube-synscan-go-to.html

I have one like that, and this film has made me want to take it out into the streets and do what this guy did.

I did something like this once at a Stargazing Live event, and at one point, after a couple of dozen people had had their turn, I looked round and saw there were about 30 people still queuing up. :-) Great feeling!

The Moon doesn't need such a big telescope, though. If you look at about 0:23, you see a cover that protects the main 10-inch mirror, and in that cover there's a cap that covers a 2-inch hole.

You view the Moon with that big cover in place, and just the 2-inch hole open. If you used the whole of the big mirror, the Moon would be uncomfortably bright.

So even a much smaller telescope would be easily capable of giving people a great view.

Governor Squid

There was a hushed sense of amazement and no little gratitude amongst everyone who looked.

Oh, Saturn! I've felt and seen that sense of amazement -- it's magical. I'd recommend that for our videographer's next effort.

dicentra

Great Basin N.P. is one of the country's hidden treasures. So many ecosystems in such a tiny space, and a nifty cave to boot!

Too bad it's literally in the middle of nowhere. I can't think of a more nowhere place than where it's at.

Lockers

Utterly beautiful. I've had one or two people round at my pad viewing the moon through my 'scope. Same reaction. When I first used it myself to view the moon, it made me want to cry! Odd reaction really, god knows where that comes from.

I've also been fortunate to be down under, in Australia and New Zealand, in some very remote places with no light pollution at all. The Southern Hemisphere points more towards the centre of the Milky Way, and is a much, much more dense star field in that direction than when viewed from the Northern Hemisphere. It literally looks milky. Staggeringly beautiful - I gawped for ages.

Thanks for your work on this blog, by the way David. Been reading it for years.

David

Been reading it for years.

After 20 years, I may hand out cake.

WTP

I can't think of a more nowhere place than where it's at.

Ever been to Cincinnati on a Tuesday night? When the Reds are on the road?

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