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Mid-winter Trifecta
Mid-winter Trifecta

I’ve always been interested in astronomy but had never looked through a telescope that had usable optics. The one or two times I had looked through a telescope were thoroughly uninspiring and totally disappointing. I guessed there really just wasn’t that much to see.

I was in Florida visiting my brother in Feb 04. He had a new telescope his wife to be had given him for his birthday and he wanted to show it to me. I was prepared to be disappointed again but moderately interested. It was a beautiful night in Southwest Florida. The sky was full of stars and the moon was a gold crescent hanging in the sky to the west. Two of the brighter objects above were planets, or so I was told.

The small telescope was setup, aligned using some sort of procedure, and then aimed towards the first planet. I put my face up to the eyepiece.

My jaw fell to my chest. I forgot to breathe. There was Jupiter, mysterious bands, 4 moons, just suspended there, simply amazing! The longer I looked, the more I began to see. I took in the view for several minutes as the scope motor hummed keeping pace with the moving sky. Now I was excited! Next stop was the "other planet". The scope hummed louder and moved to the west....Saturn!....and RINGS! Absolutely beautiful! It couldn’t be real. I looked up over the scope several times to convince myself I was really seeing this. It WAS real! I had seen, really seen, other worlds for the first time in my forty some odd years.

I felt the excitement of discovery that I hadn’t felt since I was a kid.

One of my first coherent thoughts was "I’ve got to get pictures of this". It was almost time to go but for the few remaining minutes I decided to look at something that was familiar. Again, the scope hummed louder and the old comfortable moon became the target... BUT WAIT!!

There are mountains on the moon!! I don’t know that place at all. How could it have been there all this time and I didn’t know there were mountains? I was astounded at how little I knew about things I saw all the time, but had never really seen.

Trees began to blot out the mountains on the moon as the sky moved.

I had to have one more quick look at the "planets" and then I had to go.

But, I’d hit the mid-winter trifecta and it’s been paying off ever since. I now have a hobby that includes taking those pictures I’d thought about and each time out I have a new discovery. At least new to me.

I’ll never be the same.

Date Taken: 06/14/2011
Author: Bill G
Category: Orion's Astronomy Essay Contest (2009)

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