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Friday, May 6, 2011

Vienna Comes to Mitzpe Ramon

We had an exhilarating time this evening with S_ and K_ (anonymity requested) from Vienna. S_ grew up in Chicago and is now teaching in Vienna. K_ trades commodities there (should I buy gold?). It was a dark and stormy night. No, really it was. But S_ and K_ really wanted to see the stars and after many hesitations we went up despite the clouds.

As we were driving up it began to rain, which made me feel pretty stupid. But by the time we reached our observing plateau it had stopped, and of course the desert drinks it up immediately anyway. We dodged clouds for most of the night, together with the occasional shower, but enjoyed ourselves. We had enough breaks in the cloud cover to do a good tour of the constellations, and Saturn stayed uncovered long enough for some dedicated observing. S_ and K_ were quick studies and were soon piloting the telescope on their own.

After dropping them off at Chez Eugene, we had the thrill of seeing a striped hyena at the dumpster near the industrial district. These are amazing animals, wild and feral, with a bent, threatening, and loping gait. This was my fourth hyena sighting in Mitzpe Ramon. I saw a family of 3 last summer when I was out observing near the Alpaca Farm.

Keep on lookin' up!

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