Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sun Spotting

It was an excellent couple of days for leaf peeping. We had manged to get in a couple of good hikes for a healthy dose of color and exercise. But Kelly had to work Sunday night, which left the bloggerette and I to wind out the weekend ourselves. We discussed our options and decided a ride up to Mt. Pollux was in order, for a good sunset viewing.

Since days like these will soon be in short supply, it seemed best not to waste a minute indoors.

There was a smattering of people on the hilltop, just hanging out, quietly contemplating and soaking in the last rays of the day.

Then there was this one guy, who was enjoying the scene a little more intently than the others.

He had brought up his telescope and had it aimed at the sun. Everyone within earshot was invited to have a look.

His name is Tom, a member of the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association. He can be found here from April to October, on Saturday afternoons and Sundays at sunset, ever eager to share the treasures of the sky with whoever is willing to listen, or watch.

I took a turn at the telescope and in the eye piece, sure enough, was a large, beautifully rendered view of our mighty yellow Sol. Replete with sunspots and atmospheric shimmer.

Tom offered up plenty of info on the sun and other heavenly objects as each of us peered through the glass, and several minutes later generously invited everyone for another round as the sun slowly melted into the horizon, now compressing into a more oval shape due to refraction of the atmosphere, and the distant tree tops in the eyepiece swayed in silhouette against a vanishing orange disk.

Then in a flash, it was gone.

Most everyone remaining was now making their way back down the hill. The bloggerette and I hung out for a few more minutes with Tom and another straggler. Tom had one more thing to show us. After all, what does an astronomer do when the sun is all gone?

Points his scope at the moon, of course.


Theresa said...

Beautiful, just beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful work Tony. Especially # 2 & 3. #4 is "Pretty as a Picture"! Great job as always. Thanks for sharing, L.