Tonight, I headed down to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  The leaders and participants from the Capitol Reef trip got together at the planetarium.  We watched a slide show of photos that we submitted.  They looked super cool on the dome of the planetarium.  Jason also put together a bit of a show for us.  He showed us the sky as it would have been back in August and Utah if there weren’t clouds and we talked and reminisced about our trip.  I would go on another trip with Nathan, Jason and Michelle anytime.  It was fun to realize just how much I learned on the trip.  Once again, they rolled out the red carpet for us and it was great!

Sometimes I think I am addicted to knowledge.  I think my husband is rubbing off on me.  After our reunion, I attended the Frontiers of Astronomy Lecture that was held in the auditorium of the museum.   The lecture series is sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University Department of Astronomy, The Cleveland Astronomical Society and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  I had no idea what to expect.  I read the description of the lecture.

“Exploring the Extreme Universe with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

Thurs, Oct 11, 2012; 8 pm

David J. Thompson, Ph.D., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, reveal extreme conditions in the Universe. The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has been exploring the gamma-ray sky for several years, enabling a search for powerful transients like gamma-ray bursts, novae, solar flares and flaring active galactic nuclei, as well as long-term studies including pulsars, binary systems, supernova remnants and searches for predicted sources of gamma rays such as dark matter annihilation. Dr. David Thompson will discuss results of these searches. Some results include a limit on Lorentz invariance violation derived from a gamma-ray burst, unexpected gamma-ray variability from the Crab Nebula, a huge gamma-ray structure associated with the center of our galaxy, surprising behavior from some gamma-ray binary systems, and a possible constraint on some models for dark matter.

Free and open to the public.”

After reading the above, I still had no idea what to expect.  Our reunion ended just before 8PM and reluctantly headed to the lecture.  I was shocked to see a full hall.  It wasn’t standing room only.  In actuality, there were probably 40% of the seats empty, but it was a great turnout.  I’m was amazed.  I still had no idea what I was doing there.  I don’t really know much about astronomy, let alone gamma rays.

As I sat down, I heard some folks chatting behind me about how they didn’t know anything when they started coming to these lectures.  Now after coming for a few years, many of the things discussed are familiar and after they hear about things a few times, it starts making sense.

I listened to David’s talk and watch the slides.  I’m not volunteering to teach a class on the Fermi, but I must admit that I was interested and not bored during the talk.

Thanks to Nathan and Jason for suggesting tonight for our reunion and suggesting the lecture.  I’m glad I stayed.

Taxonomy and gamma-rays in the same week, I wonder what Saturday’s docent class will bring.

 Posted by at 10:47 PM

This is my final post about the Capitol Reef trip.  I thought I would talk about the field station and housing.


There were two dorm type buildings.  Each one had 4 bedrooms and each room could sleep 3 or 4 people.  Each bedroom had it’s own bathroom.  These rooms are fairly new since the station is about 4 years old.  Everything was in great shape and well-maintained.  I’ve stayed in plenty of hotel rooms that weren’t nearly as nice and certainly did not come with the amazing views.


The vehicles parked in a carport.  The roof of the carport consisted of solar panels.  Besides the two dorm buildings, there was also a multipurpose building that included a kitchen, office, sleeping quarters for the manager and a classroom.


Jane, the field station manager gave us a talk about the facility.  She also showed us the solar shades on the buildings.


There are two propane tanks and the facility does utilize some propane for heat in the winter.  The building on the right houses the batteries for power and the water treatment facility.


As you go into the building, you notice the weather station outside.  All of the data is recorded and displayed in the classroom.  Once inside, it’s hard not to be impressed by the batteries that are storing the solar power.


It was so fun to see.  It reminded me of a plant tour.  The facility is truly off grid.  They produce all of their power.


Next up was the water treatment room.  This is a photo of a used filter.  It’s gross to think about all of the crud that starts out in the water.  On the right, a photo of some of the filters and pipes that the water travels through.


We were challenged to conserve water as much as possible.  It’s expensive and a long process to pump and treat the water.


I had an awesome time (even with the clouds).  The trip leaders were great.


Thanks to Jane, Michelle, Jason and Nathan.

 Posted by at 8:46 PM

During our second full day at Capitol Reef National Park, the group divided into two.  One group headed out for a long, more strenuous hike.   The rest of us set out to check out the non-hiking part of the park.  We stopped at the Gifford Farmhouse and the blacksmith shop.  At some point we also heard a ranger talk.  That was fun since the ranger was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio.


We visited the visitor center and watched the film about the park.  Our main purpose at the center was to find out about U-Pick fruit.  Fruita, Utah is known for historic orchards that are located within the national park.


We got directions and headed to the orchards.  We were met by classic U-Pick signs.  We were also met with the most beautiful backdrop for any picking that I have ever done.  The photo on the right is an apple orchard.


Any fruit consumed while in the orchard is free.  Any fruit picked to take with you is $1.00 a pound.  Everything is done on the honor system.  There is a box with bags, a scale and a money drop at each orchard.  We heard that the peaches are a bit more protected when they are in their peak, but we weren’t there during that time.


The apples were most delicious.


After the apples, we headed to find pears.  This orchard also had a few peach trees.  We may have picked a few of them as well.


After a wonderful experience picking, we headed back to the field station where some sort of cobbler making was on the menu for dessert.


We had a great time exploring the park and the dessert turned out great.  The rest of the group had a great hike and everyone was happy with the day.

 Posted by at 10:07 PM

Although viewing the night skies was proving to be challenging due to the clouds, we were able to get great views of the sun.

Jason, who manages the planetarium at the museum, brought along this telescope for us to use.  He put a filter on it to make it safe for viewing the sun.


It was the first time that I ever looked at the sun properly.


There was also a smaller scope set up for viewing.  It was really neat to see the edges of the sun and the spots.


Clyde from the museum sent along some welder’s glass.  Jason was instructed to give each of us one.  It can be used to view the sun safely.  It’s not safe to look directly at the sun without the glass or some other kind of filtered set up.  Next time there is neat sun oriented event, I’ll be all set with the proper tool for viewing.

 Posted by at 8:00 AM

After arriving late on Sunday, Monday was our first full day to see the park.  During breakfast, I took note of the dry erase board where the field station keeps track of the different species that are found in the area.  It was interesting to see all of the different ones listed.  I’m not good at any identification, but a few people on our trip were great.  Since viewing wasn’t so great the night before, many were up earlier than anticipated.  A group set off for an early hike.  My knee was giving me trouble the week before, so I didn’t want to overdo it.


I stayed at the field station and took in some beautiful scenery.


I really would love a view like this every morning.


Around 11:30AM, we had a short orientation about the field station from Jane and then set off on a group hike to see the Petroglyphs and Pictographs.  Along the way, we saw this can off the trail.  It’s historic trash.  I’m not kidding.  It’s being preserved there as part of the history.


It was really dark and cloudy during parts of our hike.  It’s hard to believe that we were in the desert.  We felt a few rain drops here and there, but didn’t get caught in a storm.


The area around the field station used to be a ranch.  Here are some remnants.


Soon we arrived at the Petroglyphs and Pictographs.  Petroglyphs are carvings and pictographs are painted on.  The detail doesn’t show up well in the photos.  We can learn a lot about different cultures by the symbols used.


To help preserve the park and discourage vandalism, the park has a tube where people can write in that they were there.  Martha field it in for us on behalf of the Cleveland Natural History Museum.


We headed back to camp and had lunch and a break.  Later in the day, we headed to the Hickman Bridge trail.  This involved everyone getting into the vans and driving to the trail head.  The Hickman Bridge trail was on our agenda.  It was a mile one way.  The trail was strenuous for me.  There was lots of rough terrain and elevation.  I didn’t stop for much in the way of photos.  At one point, I really felt like I was holding up the group.  I almost gave up.  Nathan was super encouraging and hiked back with me.  It was really appreciated.


And, I made it to the bridge.  Well, I didn’t go up under the bridge, but I earned this photo!  My face is really red.


After the hike, we headed back to the field station.  Nathan started on dinner.  We feasted on BBQ chicken, coleslaw and corn on the cob.  It was delish!


Lots of clouds meant an early bed time.  I was exhausted, so it was ok with me.

 Posted by at 10:27 AM

Back on August 12th, I set out on a journey to Capitol Reef National Park.  This was a Cleveland Museum of Natural History trip, and the main purpose was to see the Perseid Meteor Shower.  I took a 9AM direct flight out of Cleveland and landed in Las Vegas around 11AM.  I was on the first 737-800 that Southwest flew out of Cleveland.  The plane was only 2 months old.  Once I landed, I grabbed some lunch in the concourse.  I collected my luggage and after a bit, figured out that some of the people just hanging out in baggage claim were also on the trip.  It was fun to go up to someone and ask them if they were from Cleveland and if they were from the museum trip.  While we were waiting for everyone to gather, I put $5 in the slot machine.  I cashed out at $7.  That was short and fun!


Once we had our crew, we loaded up the vans and headed on our way.  Turns out, Capitol Reef National Park is in Utah, about 7 hours from Las Vegas.  You also have a brief stint in Arizona on the way.  The ride was fun and hot and beautiful.  During the trip I saw clouds, rain, a rainbow and Great White Pelican.


We made a few stops along the way.  We arrived at the visitor center and met up with the last of our group and headed deep into the park to the field station.  It was dark by the time we arrived around 8:30PM or later, we found our rooms and got settled.


Nathan cooked us dinner.  It was a simple, but fabulous pasta with salad and bread.  We also had a brief introduction from Jane, the field station manager.


After dinner, we saw lots of clouds.  I took a nap for a few hours and got up for sky viewing around 2AM.  Unfortunately, the stars were enjoying their time behind the clouds.  I managed to see a couple meteors, but the highlight was seeing Jupiter through the telescope with 3 of its moons.  Even without great sky viewing, we were in a great national park and the next couple of days were going to be great!  Exhausted, I slept well when I retired the second time.

 Posted by at 6:37 PM

I’m back from Utah.  I had a great trip, and I have many things to tell you about.  But, tonight is about sleep, laundry, unpacking and general clean up.  My numerous photos and tales will have to wait.

Instead of a post about the trip, let’s quickly talk about beer.  I don’t drink much (maybe one drink a year), but I’m around people who drink socially pretty often.  Someone purchased some beer for our trip while we were in Utah.  Check it out!

In honor of the natural history museum, this one was purchased.  Noticed the “Darwin Approved” and Created in 27 days, not 7”.


Then, we have Polygamy Porter.  Keep in mind, we were in Utah.  There’s nothing more to say.


We all got a laugh out of the beer choices.  Apparently, they were both good, too.

I’m hoping for a solid night sleep and a relaxing Friday.