Last weekend B. and I explored yet another in our plethora of local attractions: the Robert Ferguson Observatory, in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Located in Kenwood, off Highway 12, this gorgeous park affords many opportunities for hiking, camping, and yes, even stargazing. Every month the observatory hosts a low-cost star party, when their roofs slide back to reveal several high-powered telescopes, including a robotic telescope that allows viewers to see images taken by its scientific-grade camera. In addition, amateur astronomers from all over the Bay Area come here and set up their own telescopes in the observatory’s parking lot, allowing visitors to spy the heavens.
In the night sky we saw the Summer Triangle, one of several seasonal asterisms – configurations that encompass multiple constellations; Saturn, that most beautiful of all the planets, rings clearer than ever through these state-of-the-art scopes; Scorpio, Sagittarius, Ursas Major and Minor.
As we waited in line to look through each telescope, I heard snippets of conversation from all sides, as others gathered with us. Families from Santa Rosa, couples from San Francisco and Oakland, senior citizens and kids alike all came in anticipation of sneaking a peek at what we rarely see, yet what is in front of us every night of the year. I was struck when I turned back to the sky, only to notice that Saturn was setting late in the evening, and the constellations were quickly passing from view. This gave me an even stronger sense of time flying by, as our Earth turns in its orbit, just a small part of the ceaseless cosmic chatter.
NOTE: My friend, Dana Magliari, was kind enough to invite me to guest post on his blog about freelance writing, Always Knocking.