Two weekends ago we camped at Bruneau Dunes, which opens its observatory Friday & Saturday evenings after 8:30PM.
Even though the moon was overwhelmingly bright we saw the moons of Jupiter and “The Ring Nebula” M57.
While M57 doesn’t really look so colorful when seen through Bruneau’s telescope as it does on Wikipedia (right), I saw its light with my own eyes, filtered only by glass, a lot of nothing, & dust.
Standing in line for the big scope isn’t a dream (it’s a bit stuffy & dark in the building, and it took about 20 minutes) and while I was there I overheard:
“If they were smart they’d just put a big TV up on the wall.”
“Let’s go, we can look at this online.”
(And they left.)
I respect the work being done to let us view the cosmos through computers & TV (World Wide Telescope, for example), and I realize not everyone has access to such a telescope, but when you do, wait for it. Let the light from these perhaps long-gone places soak straight into your brain through your eyeballs and see what happens. 20 minutes is not too high a price for amazement.