On the night

I just don't want to make a dead'n dry website with diehard facts. Of course you'll find the necessary data, but additionally I want to let you know about the fun that I had ! A little bit of information about the atmosphere in the summer 1999: I was preparing for the oral tests which finally would set an end to my studies at the physics department of the university of Giessen. During the months of learning I was able to shift the use of time during a day. From 10-12 I would do a first round of work, from 14-16:00 another round, after that a break. Than  I would do a long walk with lots of cards for learning. Than I would write an email to the woman I love and after that do a small repitition of the things I worked on during the day. After that I would sleep a little bit. And than I would observe from around 23:00 through 1:30 or 2 in the morning.
Believe me or not, the result in the tests showed, that this was a very good choice :-))

The nights themselfs were very relaxing.
Sometimes it was quiet, sometimes I heard radio or I played a tape on the cassette deck in the car. Aehm, mostly Dire Straits, Knopfler-stuff.
It's been not that cold that summer, which made observing very comfortable.
Then I would arrive on the observing the site with the sky still a little bit lightened by the vanishing day. After setting up the scope and preparing charts, books, etc. (guess what takes longer ? Of course the latter one!), the skies would be as dark as it gets at that time of the year.

Wonderer in the night

I'm not the kind of observer, who constantly works on full power. I love it to step back from the scope and just look up and admire the great sky above my head. Man, the milkyway, isn't it great ?
Or, in other words:
Light - from distant worlds
billion miles and years away
moving - through the space
until it reaches one fine day
our little earth, this small planet
and even smaller one man's eye
there in a millisecond
and a current it will die
gases - come together
and this cloud becomes a star
burning - up of masses creates the light
we see from (a)far
One fine day this will be over
the star explodes, parts fly away
our lives depend on elements
which were built in this way 
I have been waiting - and I've been standing
on a hill all night long.
There - I watched the stars 
on the sky moving along.
The dance of planets and their moons
the rise and setting of the sun
it's the same in past and present
since human time begun 
And here we are, we are a part
like a word in a verse
Less than a dusty grain
in the wonderful universe 
words (c) 2000 Frank Leiter, music (c) 1998 Mark Knopfler

And then there are these moments ....

Wanderer in the night

... when one is frightened by a sudden sound.
That was, when I was completly absorbed by the work on the scope. Deeply concentrating on one tiny speckle, a fuzzy blob of light, I was suddenly disattracted by a sound right beside me. I couldn't stand on my ladder and backed down, having a look, what happend. It was a guy ! A midnightrunner ! "Wonderer meets wanderer" :-)
By the way, this guy didn't want to have a look through the scope and went on running. Don't know if it was faster than before, though ...

Enlightened visions

Of course there are those nights, which don't work.
One of such kind was later in the year, in Septembre.
I wanted to meet one of the club-members of the AAG-Heuchelheim for observing, so we phoned and set a location. Arriving there I was stunned by a big, very well enlightened machine which was doing a harvest. After half an hour the guy wasn't there, but I couldn't remain on the spot. So I left and went 500m to the south. There I set up the scope and prepared everything.
What happened ?
Just in that instant when I had the first object, light flooded around me !
The machine was coming right up to me -- ..... -- and passed 5 m left of me. Before too much dust ruined the optics, I slew the scope and closed the optics.
When I finally set the scope on a third location in another attempt, I saw my college as a dark shadow in front of the horizon ....

BACK (c) 2002, Frank Leiter