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Kitt Camping July 14, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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milkyway   I am spending this evening on the summit of Kitt Peak (31°57’20.04″N / 111°36’48.36″W) with my family camping and enjoying the stars. We were part of a university group with special permission to use the picnic and camping grounds despite the ultra-high fire dangers.

As my daughter went off on the astronomy related program for the evening after the sun had set, I took some time to enjoy Jupiter in my telescope. The only problem with the evening was the mid-summer storm over the Mexican border. Lightning flashed every few seconds disrupting night vision for those purists among the campers. I managed to find myself a spot behind a large boulder and leaned back to enjoy a sight I rarely get to see, the Milky Way.

When I was growing up in Ontario, we always had the sense of a large lake just to the south of us. While sitting on the Atlantic or the Pacific shores, we were always aware of a great vastness lying before us. We could ponder the weight of the water and the depths of its mysteries. We could see the edges of it but, without seeing the whole thing, know it was there and formed the limit of our terrestrial life.

This evening I had that feeling again while looking at our galaxy vast stars obscrubed only by the wide dust lanes. I could see from roughly the center near Scorpio out to the northern limits. I could see stars so vast in number they could not be counted. I could only sense them as a part of a rich milky cloud. It was like looking at the edge of our terrestrial life. There was something deeply comforting about understanding our limits in this life.

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