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The Observing Site

Fred Ley

Dimitri Stouraitis and I arrived at Palaiokaraeia, just north of Lake Trichonis, around midnight, August 29, 2008. Dimitri Kolovos was busy in the garden taking CCD images-yeah, like what else does he do. He showed us a nice one of M31, the well-known galaxy in the constellation of Andromeda. He is not yet finished with the image, but it looks like it will end up looking very nice. I didn't stay up to long as I was tired.


The morning of August 30 some goats nearby awaked me, real nearby. Hmm...; ok, so I had to force myself to go back to sleep. Well that didn't last for to long, the chickens in the hen house started squawking and got me up. This is beginning to sound like a barnyard circus here. OK, back to sleep once more. Yes, you guessed it, a man passing by in a truck selling goods and announcing that fact over a loudspeaker woke me up. If I only had a bow and arrow, I could have taken out that speaker for good. In the afternoon, lying down and armed with the August and September issue of Sky & Telescope magazine I was catching up on news in the world of astronomy and looking at the interesting equipment that is available for us to purchase depending on the size of ones wallet when I was distracted the braying of a nearby donkey. The sound definitely breaks ones concentration at that particular moment.


Fast forward to the evening of August 30th. Dimitri and company had to go and attend a wedding. That left me all alone with the C11 telescope-yes! I turned it on, followed the prompts on the control paddle of the EQ6 mount and before long I was cruising the universe. I grabbed my old workhorse, the 13mm Nagler and things looked just perfect. Some of the objects viewed were M15, M31, M17, M13, M51, M57, M20, M8, NGC 404, NGC 925, NGC 1023, NGC 7006, NGC 7008, NGC 7331 and NGC 7662. The 13mm Nagler gave me a magnification of 215 and a true field of view of 22 minutes 54 seconds. It was a perfect eyepiece for viewing these extended objects. I had never used an EQ6 mount before and I was impressed. I did a rough three star alignment looking through a Tele Vue 55mm Plossl 2-inch eyepiece in order to center the stars. The M and NGC objects were always in the field of view of the 13mm Nagler. On a 2-inch 32mm wide-angle eyepiece, with an apparent field of 65-degrees, and a 2-inch Lumicon UHC filter, the views were quite enhanced. However, with the 13mm Nagler I equally, and perhaps a little more, enjoyed the view provided without the use of a filter. The background was dark enough to give me great contrast and the 82-degree apparent field of view made it all come together just right. I need to mention that during my cruise through the universe I was alerted by strange sounds emanating from the surrounding foliage. I was thinking that perhaps it might be a cat or possibly a hedgehog. Actually there was an incident with a hedgehog here in Greece in August 1979 while making variable star observations at the home of George Stephanopoulos. Anyhow I started to hear what sounded like someone or something walking. So, naturally, I got curious. Armed with a flashlight, I proceeded to investigate. I turned on the flashlight and looked down, as I was observing from a slope, to observe two sheep, one white and one black, eating. I am glad to know that I was not the target of an alien abduction.


I turned in around 3am looking forward to a good sleep and to recharge myself. At 5:51am, at least that is what my clock said; I was awoken by a cacophony emanating from the hen house. I never new that chickens could generate the sounds and the decibels that I heard. It definitely sounded like the fox got into the hen house. To have that sound enter your dreams was a real experience for me. Ok, back to sleep. I do not know what time is was, well the sun was up when the bells on the church located about one hundred yards away went off. Talks about having the worlds loudest alarm clock go off right next to you. Reminds me of that song by Pink Floyd from their Dark Side Of The Moon album. I figured that this was my cue to get up and start the day.


In the desert of southern California the sound issue is a simple one, you just have the coyotes howling and that in turn just makes my dog get all excited which in turn wakes me up-a simple principle of cause and effect. The only other detraction is when the Los Angeles County Sheriff helicopter and cars show up (a true event)-like on TV, at your neighbors house down the road aways or hearing sporadic gunfire at night-which wakes one up.


In conclusion, life must be real exciting in a village in Greece-never a dull moment-at least for me. You hear sounds that you do not normally come in contact with on a daily basis living in the big city.

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Fred, I laughed my socks-off. LOved every word. The truth of the matter is that for us city dwellers, nature's noices, especialy in the dark sound threatening and ominous. I remember my first night out on sentry duty during my service with dread.

And of course it mostly has to do with the absence of any kind of urban noice, that buzz that normally blankets everything to our ears. It makes krickets sound like a bunch of Japanese drummers.

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Hi Fellow Astrovoxians,


I am glad that some of you enjoyed my short and informative piece of penmanship. I did the sketch prior to the writing. Astronomy, its more than a passion, its an adventure.



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