We stayed at the Astronomer’s Lodge and enjoyed a dinner and a talk about stars before traveling to the 107 inch telescope to learn more and look through the telescope. I climbed seventy stairs (stopped twice to catch my breath) to the equivalent of five stories, but it was worth it to hear Dr. Michael Endl talk about his research of 160,000 stars over five years to find a star system with a planet like earth. He’s found four earth-size planets and 312 larger ones.
Then they opened a wide strip of the dome and rotated the dome to position the huge telescope. I will post pictures as soon as I can download them from my camera.
I looked through the eyepiece at the fourth mirror (that’s how it needs to be set up even though some of the light is lost when moving to each mirror). I viewed a dying star with its ring of nuclear particles that looked like a donut. I also saw a binary star 430 light years away. At first it was believed to be one star, but actually proved to be two stars revolving around each other at a distance of several light years apart. I could see both twinkling, one above the other.
My next view was of a globular cluster of a hundred or more stars. There were too many to count.
I asked about a larger observatory dome and learned it was only used by researchers using spectography to study the light rays received from different stars and planets. An astronomer estimated the number of observatory domes nearby was twenty-five as other groups are doing research or providing observatories for students to observe.