My second tour.

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to take another tour of the Hale Telescope and attend a star party courtesy of my ‘Friends of Palomar’ membership.
This time I chose to ride up. Of course this was nothing new as such. I really enjoy the Palomar road up, take a look at the map, whats not to enjoy? While I was taking my time and there was no traffic, I still managed to scrape a few foot pegs, its hard not to, the bike is so smooth and the road so twisty…..anyway, point is, its a beautiful ride.
I especially enjoy the bit of road between the T intersection at the top and the dome car park. In the late afternoon the light is just beautiful, the road is not so technical, so you can enjoy the atmosphere. The weather was one again perfect. Its a very moving experience for me each time I go up. I really value each opportunity to visit and tour the telescope.
The tour was a little different this time. When we entered the dome the lights were mostly off and we were ushered up to the dome walkway straight away. Turns out that Scott, the tour director had a little treat for us. Standing on the rim of the dome, we could just make out the Hale telescope in the dim light. Scotts voice boomed out ‘let there be light’, and with that the shutters on the dome opened up and a thin crack of fading daylight lit up the telescope, The light grew in intensity as the shutters slowly and almost silently opened up.
Before our very eyes the scope was then fully lit with the soft afternoon light. It was beautiful to see it lit up like that. Its the first time I have seen it so clearly.
Barley given a moment to take it in, I heard another noise that made my heart skip a beat…… They had started the oil pumps, this meant that they were going to move the telescope for us!
Sure enough, with out a single extra sound, the scope began to move, it was all too much for this geek and I have to say that a tear or two came to the eyes. It was just beautiful to see the scope move around so smoothly and quietly.
The shutters were closed and the door to the dome walkway was opened, every one except me headed outside to see the view. They started up the dome and took us around a few times. I was inside looking at the telescope. The rotating of the dome is so smooth that you think its the scope moving, its the best way to see all over the scope with out having to move.
Walking out of the dome we saw the setting sun and knew it was time to have a bite to eat before the star party got under way.
I had some of Freddys home made lasagna, and some french toast left over from breakfast. Nice.
There were about 6 telescopes set up. Its really good of those people who give of their time and equipment to come and help out at the star party. I was quite taken with Jims truck and telescope set up.
It was pretty busy for a long while, I took the chance to slip away and take some photos on my own of the dome. It was just perfect weather, a touch of cool in the air, very soft breaze, clear skies.
We got to look at a few different objects though a variety of size telescopes. Neptune was a first for me. It really is blue!
I was about the last memeber of the public to leave at 11:15pm.
The ride down was great. The road is so twisty that you cant see around the corners, so you are riding into darkness on a lot of the turns. I did not scrape anything on the way down……..
Got home, had a glass of port and went to bed.

Photos are here.