Tonight I drove out to the Lake Afton Public Observatory. When I arrived the 16-inch telescope was pointed toward and focused on the planet Venus. It looked like a very small very bright dot. Then I went outside.
What I wanted to do was try out the new 15×70 binoculars Kirsten gave me and maybe take a few pictures. Behind the observatory is a concrete pad with about a dozen stands for observers to rest as they view the sky through binoculars. It was dark and I couldn’t see well. Before my eyes had adjusted to the extremely limited amount of available light a gentleman approached me and introduced himself. I had not noticed him before and he was just a few yards away. Chris didn’t have a simple tripod setup like mine but a 10-inch diameter telescope, laptop computer running star chart software, cooler, a table, and two chairs. He was very knowledgable and experienced and showed me many stellar objects that took my breath away. We saw the Orion Nebula, Saturn with her rings and four of her moons, and many nebulae, double-stars, and star clusters. It was a tremendous treat for me. I was awed and inspired.
Using the new binoculars I was easily able to see the impressive Orion Nebula. It was cool to see the many stars visible through the binos that I couldn’t see without them. One of the highlights of the evening was watching a bright artificial satellite fall steadily across the night sky and pass through the constellation Orion.
Star gazing is for me a very spiritual experience. The vastness of space is incomprehensible yet I can see a tiny portion of it by simply looking up.