Monday, August 10, 2015

George Observatory

On Saturday night I went to the George Observatory in Brazos Bend State Park to view the stars with two of my friends.  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh wait, wasn’t that a #BucketList item??????  Yep!!!  I am ON A ROLL! :)

We got there around 7:15 pm (it’s about 1.5 hours from Houston) and went straight to the gift shop to see if there was an ornament to add to my collection.  I try and get an ornament each time I complete a bucket list item or travel to a new place.  There weren’t any ornaments at the gift shop, but there was a patch that had the observatory, so I just bought that.  My options were a patch or a pencil, I chose the patch. :)  I can easily add a ribbon to the back to make it an ornament. 

We had a few minutes to walk around so we went to the lake/swamp to see if we could find any alligators sticking their heads out of the water.  We didn’t have any luck but we did see several huge frogs.  We were looking away from the lake when we heard a huge splash.  By the time we whipped our head around, whatever it was went back into the water, but we could still see the ripples.  It must have been either an alligator or a big fish.  Who knows.

The light poles have little information boards about different stars/planets/constellations/asteroids.

We went to a short lecture (about 30 minutes) at 8 pm where they tell you a little information about what you will be seeing in the telescopes.  A lot of it went waaaaaaaaay over my head (even though I took two semesters of Astronomy in college) but it was interesting. 

After the lecture it had turned dark and we got in line for the big telescope.  There are three dome stations (2 small and 1 large) and also several amateur people with their telescopes too.  They take a group of about 10 people in at a time to the big telescope and let you look through the really powerful machine.  After an 1.5 (ish) hour wait, we finally saw a globular cluster.  This cluster was in the Hercules constellation, but I am not sure which one it was.  I think it started with an M.

Anyway, they said that it had about half a million stars in this cluster.  They didn’t count each star because the stars are constantly moving and they can’t tell if they counted one or not.  To guesstimate the number of stars, they took a picture, counted the stars within the picture and used the size to make an educated guess as to how many stars are in the cluster.  Pretty cool.

One more thing:  BRING BUG SPRAY!!!!  OMG.  Seriously.  I was being bit by mosquito after mosquito, even through my pants!  We bought some mosquito repellent wipes but they were still snacking on us. 

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