Lunar Crater Nevada
Joints in the rock beckoned like hallways. Some spiraled to the summits. Other crawled deep and hid from the sunlight.
Our galaxy and a hint of sunrise over an extinct volcanic crater.
A kiva just beyond the boundary of the original Bears Ears National Monument.
Reflections of Mount Hooker, Wyoming
Last week we ventured fifteen miles past alpine lakes and mountain passes into the depths of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. We camped beneath Mount Hooker, a historic, if seldom seen big wall, whose steep face was first scaled in the 1960s by Yosemite climbers Royal Robbins, Dick McCracken and Charlie Raymond over a monumental three-day effort.
For several days we camped and hiked within the shadow of this continuously looming wall. We attempted to climb a lesser wall, but loose rock the sent kept us low
On the final evening after the sun set and the light was replaced with cold darkness I ventured across the lake near camp.
I had scouted a spot earlier to photograph the Mount Hooker. The lake was shallow; at it’s far end the low water revealed stones half out of the water. Following the narrow tunnel of my headlamp’s beam I leapt from rock to stone across the water, hoping another stone would reveal itself. The night was below my feet, above my head, close to my skin.
The sky was clear and the wind calm, stars shined above and reflected below. In the darkness I sat on a rock about twenty feet into the lake. Unworldly musical notes from a small herd of bugling elk accompanied me as the shutter from the camera rhythmically clicked.
Sitting calmly on the stone, engulfed in dark beauty, for me this type of photography is almost primarily about the experience, a beautiful photo is just an extra.
Crescent Moon and The Galilean Moons
Last Thursday evening as the sky darkened the celestial conjunction of the crescent Moon and Jupiter gradually became illuminated. I pushed the exposure to pull out the detail moon’s aspect hidden from the sunlight and to draw out the faint moons of Jupiter.
In the bottom left you can see Jupiter with four of the Galilean moons. The two small dots to the right of Jupiter are the moons Ganymede and Callisto, and to the left are the two moons Europa and Io. These two on the right are too close to be resolved by my camera, hence only three dots are visible.
In 1609 Galileo was able to observe these moons due improvements he made to the telescope. It was this sight which began the dismantling of the millennia-old geocentric world view, that the Earth and humans are the center of the universe and everything revolves around the Earth.
This was the first time is could be started irrefutably that not everything revolves around the Earth. This was an extremely bold statement for the era and the beginning of his notion that the Earth orbited the sun and not the opposite.
This was a profound shake up of the current world view and cosmology, one that brought into question the validity of almost everything believed about humans position in the cosmos and the religion
It was this scientific discovery that eventually placed him in prison for heresy, where he eventually died under house arrest.
Galileo’s life of study was ultimately one of rebellion, a life scientists need to continually look to for guidance and to emulate regardless of the cultural or political climate.
Smoke, Sky & Mars
The other evening, I ventured into a salt valley in the western Utah desert hoping for a glimpse of the sky. Smoke from California’s three hundred thousand burning acres drifted in acrossNevada and into Utah.
Ghostly tendrils fill our valleys and lungs with stinging haze. Is this the new normal for summer in the Western States?
The evening deepened as the sun sank well past the horizon. It’s light diffusing into red fumes, I watched the slow moving wall of smoke from the west cascade upon me and blur the nightsky into indistinct point of color.
Mars, the red planet, is close to us now visible to the left of the Milky Way. At night I feel as if it is a small sun shining it’s ocher light upon us, reminding us it once too flowed with water.
The other evening, I wandered the southern shoreline of the Great Salt Lake. The sun painted the sky red through the smoke and smeared ocher light upon the salty water. Gulls flew overheard and millions of tiny black bugs nibbled my ankles. I keep feeling the pull of these Great Basin Desertscapes and hope to explore saltpans more and more. Many folks of Salt Lake City seem to disregard the Great Salt Lake. I’m continuously pulled towards it.
This Lake is a remnant of another era, it is literally the remaining puddle of the massive Lake Bonneville which covered most of western Utah for almost 800,000 years, expanding and contracting in a rhythmic cycle as the climate changed over those millennia. The remains of its shoreline can be seen on the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City.
When I first moved to Utah I was confused by what looked to be old flat roads running level on the hillsides. I learned those “flat roads” were remains of a primordial shore, places where waves carved away the rock and soil. Animals like Mammoths and Saber-Toothed Cats lived and drank there and possibility where some of the first people who ventured into North America lived out their lives. Gazing westward from the Salt Lake is a desolate view, but it feels like a small remaining glimpse of a world that use to be.