Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Baltimore's Street Corner Astronomer

I met Herman M. Heyn, Baltimore's "Street Corner Astronomer" on April 3 2007 at Harborplace. Appropriately, that is the USS "Constellation" behind him.

I was traveling on business and had stopped to stroll around Harborplace for old time's sake (having lived in Bawlmer in the early 80's). Herman invited me, and all other passersby to view Saturn through his excellent telescope. The first time I saw Saturn's rings and its largest moon Titan through a telescope, in Santa Barbara CA in 1988 I was thrilled. Seeing it again, was thrilling again. What a stunning (and perplexing) observation those rings must have been to early astronomers - Galileo in 1610, who thought that Saturn might consist of three closely clustered spheres like "ears", and then Christiaan Huygens who in 1655 saw a ring, using a much improved telescope. In 1675, Giovanni Domenico Cassini realized that Saturn's ring was actually composed of multiple smaller rings with gaps between them; the largest of these gaps was later named the Cassini Division. There's a reason I like the nice toys.

Herman shared with me by email the photo he took below of the "northern lights". He took the photo at ~2AM on November 5 2001 on a farm ~20 miles north of Baltimore. (Photo specs.: 50mm lens, f/1.7, Kodak Gold 200, ~15-sec.exposure). Wow. "What IS" is more varied, vast and beautiful than we can possibly imagine. What we can do is open our senses (eyes, ears, nose, taste, touch, mind), be still and feel our connectedness to it all.

Thank you Herman, for your generous spirit, curiosity and fascination for What Is.

"In celebration of the 17th anniversary of the launch and deployment of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, this, one of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble's cameras, is being released. It is a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth - and death - is taking place. "

Image credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Thank you Nathan, UC, Hubble Heritage Team, NASA, American Taxpayers, and all other who made this image possible and have contributed to our understanding of it. Here is Nathan's bio and a bit more about the Nebula:

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Flowers in Arlington

I thought I had better get this up on the blog before the snow predicted later this week.

Snowdrops in my front yard, as they appeared on March 23, 2007, 8AM.

Crocuses, in great abundance, on April 7, 2007

Red maple flowers, in garden between Robbins Library and Arlington Town Hall, on April 7, 2007.

View of more of red maple tree, Arlington Town Hall tower in back.

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