With Averted Vision – the McDonald Observatory

7:32 – arrived at McDonald Observatory

We hurried up to the amphitheater where we could see a brilliant green laser beam gesturing at different points in the sky.  The speaker had a very clear voice and a well rehearsed, easy manner if explaining the cosmos above.

My son Max

Visible above us he showed us a “visible mist of stars” that he explained was our galaxy.  He also pointed out a separate glow that was actually sunlight from our own sun shining on the dust in orbit around the earth called Zodiacal light.  “a very faint and allusive phenomenon to see”. He was singing the praises of our remote location for star gazing.

The speaker showed us the nearest galaxy to us called the Andromeda galaxy that you can see with the naked eye, but you can’t see it when you look straight at it.  You have to view it with “averted eyes”.  In other words if you look right at it – you miss it.  You literally have to see it out of the corner of your eye (or periphery).  The concept that there are things that you can only see when you’re not looking at them is a beautiful thing to think about.  There are all kinds of metaphorical truths hidden in that. It’s a very Harry Potter kind of magic.  It was true the slurry in the dark above us disappeared when you looked straight at it, but if you looked off to one side of it – it became visible.

After the brief lecture I had the opportunity to view 6 different celestial magnifications through some expensive looking telescopes.  I was fascinated!  After that I lay down and stared upwards and though about how much my son Max would have loved the stories about the stars and the beautiful view and of course the really cool green laser beam!

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