Observations of the first waning gibbous moon
Over the past few nights as the moon waxed to it’s fullest I noticed that my telescope was in fact powerful enough to make it possible for me to see actual lunar mountains along the edge of the lunar disk, most notably the upper right quadrant.
This got me to thinking — as the moon waned would I see these lunar features at the shadows edge? I figured it would be an interesting sort of thing to look for and that it might even make me feel a little like Galileo must have felt as he formed his ideas and tests to determine the truth of them.
Tonight I looked along the earliest line of shadow and indeed I saw the lunar texture I was hoping to see. In an effort to make sure I wasn’t just seeing what I wanted to see I waited, made several more observations and I am now absolutely willing to say “I’m not sure yet.” I saw them, but if I let myself come to a conclusion with only one nights worth of observations then I’m not really doing myself or Galileo any justice now am I? Not to mention cutting short the fun I’m having wandering around in my kid like enthusiasm for recreating these moments of discovery.
But what is perhaps cooler is that as I waited impatiently for the moon to rise I managed to catch a few moments when the moon was partially, and very artistically obscured by the very top most branches of a large redwood tree across the field from my front deck. It was a truly beautiful picture which I got to share. Though at the moment hoping to capture a picture is just that; hoping. There is no way things can be kept steady enough to capture a picture at this time. But perhaps in the future I will manage it. It was a truly artistic moment captured in the midst of scientific exploration and it gave me pause as such things always do.
In the meantime, sketching it will be. As I looked on tonight I thought about how I would sketch to capture what I was seeing. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any real drawing beyond some pretty basic stuff so this is going to present it’s own set of challenges.
However, that being said, tonight I was really swept away with the idea of how these were the kinds of things Galileo was seeing and maybe, just maybe, the kinds of things he was thinking and feeling.
How to eventually communicate those feelings to a class of students is going to be an interesting challenge.