Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fort Davis and The Mcdonald Observatory

We headed north, to Fort Davis, to see the Mcdonald Observatory. We also planned to visit the Fort itself and the state park. Little did we realize that Fort Davis is the highest town in Texas, at 5000 feet, nor did we remember it was still winter. Yup, it snowed! It go so cold that the water line, outside the house froze.
The snow blew but luckily did not accumate. The line thawed with no damage. The weather turned warmer and cleared so we stayed another day and headed to the observatory.
The McDonald Observatory tour. started with a solar viewing and discussion. The guide was knowledgable and passionate about his subject so it was good. The neatest thing was being able to see the prominances! After that we drove to the 107 inch telescope. Which is currently searching for dark energy. The guide explained that a new energy has been discovered and that it is pushing apart the galaxy groups. I started to laugh,( I later apologized and explained that I was taught that there were four fundamental forces, not five. Oh well, good thing I retired! While I enjoyed the tour it got me thinking about how much I enjoyed teaching, but I also remembered my frustration with gand banger wanabees and the reason I retired. I couldn't go back to that. Retirement is good. Last, we visited the 10 meter telescope that is built like the Keck Observatory comnpound telescope. Amazing to see a ten meter telescope.
We also stopped at the Fort and viewed their museum. The museum has a nice display on Buffalo Soldiers and the history of the fort. It reminded me of Fort Atkinson and Fort Laramie. The fort has been reconstructed, to a degree. The reconstruction has attempted to remain accurate. so that was good.
Last we stopped at Fort Davis State Park in an attempt to spot Montezuma's Quial. No luck there, but we did see a lesser goldfinch, an acorn woodpecker, and a black crested titmouse. Three new birds are always a good day! Clear skies.

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