Saturday, March 2 – What an amazing evening we had!!! Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday; the McDonald Observatory sponsors a Star Gazing Party. The cost is $10/person and worth every penny! This has definitely been added to our list of highlights for 2012.
The evening started, just as it was getting dark, with a special treat. From out front of the Visitors Center, high atop of Mount McDonald (over 6600 feet), we were surprised by the passing of the International Space Station overhead. It appeared as a very bright star, traveling rapidly, directly overhead (about 250 miles high). It appeared surprising very close in the clear mountain air. The reason we can see the Space Station so clearly is due to the fact that the solar panels are the size of a football field and reflect the sun. What a wonderful start to an evening filled with one great experience after another!
The group then walked to the rear of the Visitor's Center and took a seat in the Amphitheater. This would be a good time to caution readers. If you are fortunate enough to someday take-in the McDonald Observatory Star Party....DRESS WARM!!! Temperatures were dropping rapidly here at the top of the mountain and layers of clothing is highly recommended. And a nice blanket to place on those icy amphitheater stone benches was a welcomed addition.
In the Amphitheater, we were treated to a Constellation viewing experience we found truly enlightening. The young man leading this educational experience was very well prepared and by using a high intensity laser pointer, that projected a green laser line into the sky, he was able to easily point out stars, planets, satellites, and constellations overhead. We were spell-bound. The powerful laser made the constellation viewing clearer than we ever dreamed possible. This was the first time we've ever been able to actually pick-out Gemini, Taurus, and the other constellations in the starry night sky. WOW!
After the constellation viewing experience, the group was then invited to use the dozen or so telescopes to view, the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and other planets in the night sky. Several powerful telescopes, permanently mounted in observatory buildings were available and additional portable telescopes were used to give everyone plenty of time to view the skies. Each telescope was manned by an Observatory professional to explain what you were seeing and to answer any questions. Our favorite was viewing the moon with the 125 telescope. What a marvelous site! It was truly a special night.
By 9:30 p.m. we were freezing. We decided to call it a night and head down the mountain and back to our campsite at Davis Mountains State Park. The Observatory was open until ten o'clock for star viewing, but we were already on sensory overload and decided it was time to venture down the dark, windy road home. We were warned to be on the lookout for deer and Javelina, known as suicide pigs, on the way home. We arrived home, without a wildlife encounter, and turned in early in preparation for tomorrow's travel to Deming, NM. We were in for one more mountain air treat....the temperatures dropped to 25 degrees overnight......YIKES!!!!!
Sunday, March 3 – We left this morning about 7:15. We arrived in Deming at 1:00 MT. We are staying one night at the Dream Catcher RV Park. This is an Escapees park. What a nice clean park. The hostess was very friendly.
Since we are only here for one night, we decided not to do any sight seeing. We opted instead to visit a winery that our friends, Jay and Betty, recommended. St. Clair Winery is New Mexico’s largest winery.
Betty explained that you can take your own half gallon jug and make your own wine combination. We thought that was pretty cool, but we didn't have the jug. No problem…for $3 they will give us one. We first tasted a variety of wines FREE. They make nine New Mexico Specialty wines. We HAD to taste four of them. Marsha feel in love with the Pomegranate. Paul tasted a few Rieslings, but wanted to make his own. He combined a sweet white wine with a dry white wine. He first got to taste his creation of 90% sweet to 10% dry. YUM! He had her make a half gallon of his own mix.
We then went back to the MH and attended the Ice Cream Social. The folks here are very friendly. We enjoyed our short visit with them.
We are off to Tucson in the morning. We will be there for two weeks, and hope to enjoy some sun and fun.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y'all back real soon. Have a great day!