Sep 12, 2013

Erected in 1894 to Probe Uranus...

Telescopes, folks.

On my list for a long time, Pigtails and I finally visited the Drake Observatory this summer.


Each Friday evening, the dome opens to the public for a free speak and peek.  The lecture that warm July dusk covered moons in our solar system.

The room was tiny.
Somebody in the general vicinity had rotten armpits.

It might have been me.
I forgot to smear deodorant that morning.

Let's go geek, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is interesting.  That big mother has surface liquid.  Plus an atmosphere, rain, lakes, seas and seasons.  Bring a jacket, temp dips to -290F. 

Jupiter has 61 moons, that we know of.  Scientists suspect there are more hiding.  My favorite of the four largest Galilean spheres is lo.  It's slightly larger than our moon (not sure why our moon doesn't have a name.)

Lo is a hot tempest, boiling with 400 active volcanoes.  Some of those monster volcanic cones are taller than Mount Everest.  The nerds believe the unrest on lo is caused by Jupiter's magnetosphere.  Jup' blasts an invisible ring of high powered magnetic energy.  Lo happens to orbit within this ring of hurt and gets smacked hard.  The juice microwaves lo from the inside out.  Lava and plasma erupt with enough force that they are flung into space.  Lo ~ Hades.

The lecture was sharp, but we were itching to crack the dome and fire up the refracting scope.

120 yrs old, the beast still has its game on.  It sucked in Saturn and Titan like they were a billboard 10 miles away in West Des Moines.  Brass mechanical gears on the base slowly snicked to pan the lens with Earth's rotation, keeping our targets locked in.

Daughter whispered whoa wow as she studied Saturn's rings.  I reminded her not to sneeze.

A smaller reflector telescope outside was snooping on our moon, another was dialing in a nebula.

Getting late now, we unwound down the dome and scooted out in silence, realizing how small we are.



  1. @ 6 years ago, we went to a local museum when they had a Jupiter gazing going on. We went because it was e xtra credit for school. I was glad to hear about it because my daughters really enjoyed it. They had little demonstrations inside, which watching Doctor Who helped us understand. there was also a blind group there handing out information on being blind and how they lived with out.

  2. My inner nerd is absolutely loving this visit!

  3. Ha ha, I love the post title. We have a telescope near us that I have never taken my kids to. I need to look that up as both of them love anything to do with space. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I don't know what you are talking about regarding post title.

  4. We have a telescope and presentations at "The Planetarium". I love it. I loved it from the first time my parents took me there about 10yrs of age and I still love it now. I suggestd it to my husband as a date night, when we were still in the dating phase. That's on our list now, to take the kids. We used to have a telescope at home, but it was too fiddly with all the lenses and adjust this, de-adjust walk away because it takes too long. Also, it's nowhere near as impressive as a massive 'scope that projects onto a ceiling!

  5. Super cool, I wish we had something like this close by to visit. The title of your post had me giggling like a 12 year old boy!

    1. Are you a boy, girl or combo pack?

  6. Anonymous9/15/2013

    How long was the lecture? I'd like to take my daughter but she's 5 and can be squirelly. Thanks!

    1. Lecture is about an hour, it was interesting for adults but would be like peeled toenails for a 5 yr. old. Maybe you could show up after the lecture and check the scope together?

    2. Anonymous9/16/2013

      She would love that. Thanks for the response! -Jessica


Thanks for the note, check back for my response!