|Cindy, Alexis and I explore the world together|
In any case, I found the Institute fascinating, from "Black Beauty" the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton to the extensive collection of mineral samples sorted by place-of-origin. I think Cindy was especially interested in the mineralogical treasures to be examined, Alexis enjoyed the exhibit "The Story Of Us", and I gravitated toward the beautiful, intricate working Orrery in the center of the Astronomy exhibit. But of course!
|A splendid Orrery!|
|The observatory dome on a January day|
At this point I would like to note that my pulse-rate always peaks out in the moment where I can first see the instruments that make up the centerpiece of an astronomical observatory. In that instant I hold my breath; an almost reverential hush seems to fall as I catch that initial glimpse...and then the clockwork gearing of the world takes up the slack and time moves onward again.
But I do love that moment of stillness, the anticipation of "astronomical" discovery!
When Cranbrook Observatory was first established ninety years ago it's primary instrument was a 6-inch diameter refractor telescope. A telescope's telescope, if you will; what most people (including myself) think of when they hear the word. If that wonderful instrument had still been "there" in the center of the great dome that evening, I'd not have been unhappy. The old "long eyes" evoke an earlier era for me, a time when astronomy, and science in general, were enjoying the fruits of the Industrial Revolution, well before the era of "big" science was begun. I'm including a photo of this former occupant of the Observatory for comparison with the modern equipage (bottom of post).
|Toys in the attic|
|The Astronomer and his telescope(s)...Dr. Michael Foerster and Carl the Bear|
Well, I could have sat up in the dome talking stars and optics for the rest of the evening, but I wasn't alone--I couldn't very well keep my sister and niece prisoner in the tower, could I? After about half-an-hour, therefore, we said our goodbyes and returned to the mundane, snowy world beyond the Dome. I think I'll be going back there, though--in better weather--to exchange stargazing stories and--perhaps--to observe under clear skies next time.
Of course, there are several other observatories in the Detroit area...I'll need to visit them as well. Guess I'd better start making plans for my next trip to Michigan!
|The Observatory's former occupant, the 6-inch refractor telescope|