Stargazing adventures, day 2.

There's that moment when you wake up someplace new and all of sudden you realize you're not in your own bed at home, and you know that when you get up to look out the window the scenery is going to be completely different. Sure enough, there it was when I opened the curtains: the view of the desert from the top of a mountain.  I'm not in Ohio anymore...


English muffins, bananas, tea. What else do I really need?  I've made friends with the spider in my shower, discovered that my telephone works if I take a little walk behind the dome, and found a good spot to sit and scribble in my journal.


I spend some time poking around the observatory library, looking at books and mostly incomprehensible academic papers, and the gorgeous old flat file drawers containing the Palomar Sky Survey.  These are charts of the entire sky taken in the 1950s at the Palomar Observatory in California, developed in a darkroom on real fiber-based photo paper and overlaid with transparencies labeling all the "stuff" out in space.  These days everything's digital - and so much easier - but what a treasure to have these prints.


This morning I met Tony, the machinist at the observatory.  He's got a picture tacked to a shelf in his workshop of Albert Einstein sitting at a desk with Einstein's quote: "If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?"  I'm always amazed by the interesting things people do: Tony told me he broke his knee a long time ago in an "armored combat" tournament, where apparently you dress up in - literally - suits of armor and whack at each other with clubs and swords.  (Suddenly my life seems very boring.)  "I don't do that anymore," he said.  He was in the kitchen making a smoothie. Here he is in the shop:


Telescope fixin' tools... I almost forgot to mention, the observatory has the biggest crescent wrench I've ever seen (although I'm told this is sort of a mid-sized model).


And there's a total science-nerd light switch which I love: