Friday, December 10, 2004

McDonald Observatory

We had 3 days to get from Mission, Texas to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We could have stayed on the main roads, but I'm glad we took the scenic route. Instead of staying on highway 90, we took 118 thru the Davis mountains and got to see the McDonald Observatory. Yes, there IS scenery in West Texas. Actually I understand it is VERY spectacular in Big Bend National Park, but that was well to the south of our route. Our friends Diane and Andy went there at the beginning of their RV trip and list it as a 'must see'. Here's what we saw: Notice all that clear, blue sky? That's why it is such a good place for an observatory. And, if you take a look at the nighttime satellite photos of the US - you'll see that there are NO city lights in this part of West Texas. Even the little town of Fort Davis helps by having special street lights that only shine *down*. On the tour we got to see the 300 ton dome move into position. There are actually 3 telescopes at this site. The "Hobby-Eberly" telescope has the largest mirror in the world at at 11.1 x 9.8 meters. And, it's housed in such a pretty, shiny dome! They gave an extremely informative tour - we learned about solar flares and how they can fry entire satellites - hmmm, wonder what that does to Wi-Fi?!? To learn more, go to www.spaceweather.com and www.stardate.org Back on the road.

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