Inspiration Goes Afield
Inspired by Dr. John
Boucek's "Celestial Exploring" column in the Wet
Mountain Tribune, my wife Marty
and I recently traveled to Southern Arizona, home of some of the legendary
Of particular note was our visit to the Whipple Observatory on top of Mount
Hopkins. After parking at a gate three miles below the summit we hiked the
remaining distance on a narrow winding road to the observatory facilities at
the 13,000 foot level.
Our attention was caught by a huge composite mirror; a gamma ray telescope.
Like a one hundred foot diameter eye made of a multitude of small mirrors,
we enjoyed seeing our images reflected by the hundreds.
Here To See The Gamma Ray Telescope
Suddenly I saw a figure not my own in the reflections. Wayne Peters and
some other members of the Whipple Astronomical Team had come out to answer
any questions we might have about the work done at the observatory.
Not really I replied. But in our Community's newspaper, I told them, Dr.
Boucek Teaches us about the Celestial Realm using a combination of
scientific fact, mythology and humor. Before Wayne could say anything I
started to tell him about the Big Dipper which is also called Ursus Major,
the "Great Bear". I also taught Wayne that Groucho Marx thought that Bears
might have looked more like dippers way in the past.
Well, the astronomical Team at the Observatory are a serious bunch of folks
and getting them to laugh was like "Pulling Teeth" at first, but soon we
were trading Knowledge combined with tall tales that had everyone laughing.
We had made some new Friends.
As you may know, Mt. Hopkins is a Sacred Mountain to some of the American
Indians in the area. Before building the observatory on their Sacred
ground, the Astronomers let some of the Indian Medicine Men or "Shaman" look
through one of the big telescopes in another part of Arizona. The Medicine
Men liked what the Astronomers were doing. Not that much different from
their own interest in the Stars.
After the visit, the Shaman called the Astronomers "The People with long
eyes" and were allowed to participate in some of the projects at the
observatory as valuable contributors.
together as a Team.
If the Whipple Observatory seems interesting; you can join Wayne Peters and
the rest of the Astronomical Team via the Internet by exploring their
And one more thing.... Dr. Boucek; Thanks for Being here with us!