Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Annual Telescope Trek

Last Saturday we went to visit the telescope that my husband works on- it is located in Safford Arizona, on the top of Mt. Graham.

The Large Binocular telescope (or LBT as it is commonly known) is just beginning to gain acclaim in the astronomy world and beyond, It was one of the featured telescopes in a recent National Geographic magazine (click here). Guido has been working on this project on and off since 1990- both for the Italian team in Florence Italy (where he grew up and went to university) and also at the University of Arizona (Tucson) where we live today.

The Annual friends and family gathering is usually held in October- just after the scorching southern Arizona oven is turned down for the fall. The drive there from Tucson is a couple of hours of desert, followed by an hour and a half of mountain road. Our son Cosmo is learning how to deal with car sickness on that, thankfully, he knows to request a short stop - so we pull over and get out of the car until his tummy stops swirling and we get a good breath of mountain air.

We reach the summit through an iron gate flanked by yellowing fall aspens- and from there it's a short drive, past the Vatican telescope, and the German SMT (Sub Millimetric Telescope) to the tippy top, where the imposing 200ft tall LBT telescope is seated.

Inside the building we go to the control room and kitchen, where everyone (and their goodies) are gathering- We then commence to pig out on all the treats that the scope folks bring. The control room is open for viewing, with a scientist there to explain each computer screen and image- Soon people start to go up to the scope chamber-
right at sunset the show begins!
We have a chance to walk around, go to different levels (even on the top observation deck, where I took this picture) then, once we all are
inside and ready for a show, they begin...

The walls of the telescope chamber begin to open........
then...the telescope begins to move....It is breathtaking, even now after I have seen this many times, how smooth and fast the scope rotates! Well, at that point everyone is really impressed, but it's not done yet....the third and fourth walls open (along with the cieling of the chamber) and then.....the building begins to rotate!

It goes around and around, with the scope moving, and the sunset brilliant in the distance...and we see Science and Nature, Technology and Trees...the beauty of nature from the earth and heavens.
and it is a wonder to behold.


katarinanavane said...

slightly random comment: I too had terrible motion sickness problems for most of my life, but discovered a couple years ago a prescription medication--a patch you put behind your ear called (i believe) transaderm scop--that completely alleviates the problem with minimal side effects (in my case, it makes me really thirsty and that's about it). I found it to be, without exaggeration, life changing. I recommend looking into it for the kid. I wish I had found out about it sooner.

Maureen BZ said...

thanks- he only ever gets queasy on this particular road- it's really really really curvy! I get nauseated too, but that's mostly due to the elevation (10,200+)


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