My Title of Liberty

     "In Memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." - Alma 46:12    

Astronomy

The Moon
October 11, 2005

from a photo taken with
my Panasonic Lumix
camera just before sunset
with the zoom at 12X.

I have been interested in astronomy, the stars and solar system, since as early as the fourth grade. My Fourth Grade teacher, Mrs. Empey, gave me a book, The Encyclopedia of Natural History to spur my interest in nature. I learned to recognize the constellations, individual stars by name, and the brighter planets. I enjoyed reading science fiction stories about space travel and life on other worlds.

In junior high, I had a friend, Bobby Zane, who shared my interest in science and nature.

While riding my paper route one afternoon in the early sixties, I saw what I believe to have been a meteor passing through the sky to the north of me, bright enough to catch my eye in the daytime. I do not know whether it crashed to earth or skipped on out of the atmosphere.

In high school, I briefly thought of making Astronomy my career, but foolishly decided not to spoil a fun hobby by making 'work' out of it. Since then I have had occasion to reflect on how 'neat' it would have been to have really large telescopes and such available to me.

On March 7, 1970, while in Army training as a Reproduction Equipment Repairman at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, I witnessed a total eclipse of the sun using a plastic filter designed for that purpose. The sun was fairly high in the sky and the event was impressive.

In 1973, the Comet Kohoutek came and went without my laying eyes on it. It was expected to be bright but disappointed even the scientists.

On February 26, 1979, from our home in West Salem, Oregon, my third wife and I witnessed a total eclipse of the sun. It was overcast that day, and the darkness was eerie. We could see the edge of the totality to the west of us.

I saw Halley's Comet in 1986 from the back porch of the textile plant where I worked. It was disappointingly dim after waiting so many years to see it. Like Mark Twain, my 3rd wife Jane went out with the comet (though she did not come in with it).

On Saturday, August 27, 1988, I saw a lunar eclipse.

On July 11, 1991, there was a solar eclipse in the morning. I was able to view it in the Calender 2 area of the plant where I worked as a shaft of sunlight came down through the exhaust fan opening. I used a piece of cardboard with a pinhole in it to project an image of the eclipse onto the floor.

At least on one occasion in late 1996, My wife Sandra, daughter Christina, and I watched the comet Hale-Bopp from Mill Park near our apartment in Portland. It was the brightest comet I had seen.

October 11, 2005, I went out on the deck, used my tripod and camera, and took photos of the moon and Venus while the sky was still light.

October 22, 2005, I got up at 4:30 am. I checked on Mars' position with my computer, then verified that it was visible by looking out my window. I got dressed. I went outside from the lounge and took nine photos inclusive of Mars and Orion. I came back in, copied them to my computer.

On Sunday, July 3, 2006, I got my first view of the planet Mercury. I have looked for it most of my life with no success. After supper, Albert and I set up my telescope on the deck at Evergreen. We waited until Venus appeared in the sunset sky over the top of a tree. We both got a good look at it through the telescope. Then, having learned from the included software how far and in what direction to look, with a little trouble we found Mercury, which was still invisible to the un-aided eye. That view was worth the hundred and fifty dollars I had paid for the telescope. We then turned our attention to Jupiter. Three of its moons were visible against the black of space.

On February 20, 2008, I witnessed and photographed a total lunar eclipse:


On January 30, 2008, I photographed the sun through fog and got a pretty clean picture:


Do I believe in life on other planets? Unreservedly, Yes. But I think it is doubtful that we will meet beings like ourselves from other planets before the end of the Millenium. Someone said, If there's no one else out there, then it's an awful waste of space. But since God's children will have eternity to fill it, there must necessarily be a lot of "empty" space.

While God was speaking to Moses: "27 Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God.
"28 And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore.
"29 And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.
"30 And it came to pass that Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?
"31 And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.
"32 And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
"33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.
"34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.
"35 But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.
"36 And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.
"37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
"38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come, and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
"39 For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

(Moses 1:27-39)

Now this is my own opinion: I have believed for a long time that we have been quarantined here for our own sake and for the protection of others as well. I have noticed, as many of you probably have, that it has been nearly forty years since man set foot on the moon. We have pulled back from that. Until recently, our Mars probes have had poor luck, but now we are getting needed information. There apparently was considerable water on Mars at some time in the past. Why? and why is it now gone? Could Velikovsky have been even partly right? I really want to see us set up outposts on the Moon and on Mars, but I am pessimistic. Could the Space program be our modern Tower of Babel?