Sunday, July 7, 1996

Fremont Peak, July 7

After a night of clear sky observing until around 1 am, an impomtu wine tasting, then some limited sleep, Rich (Neuschaefer) came and woke me at 5 am. I awakened my daughter Mimi and Dean Linebarger. We stood together with John Gleason half-way up the pa th to the observatory. It was a gorgeous sight... the observatory was open with the 30" Challenger (telescope) pointed skyward and illuminated in preparation for a photo of the Shuttle Columbia streaking across the dawn behind it. The sky was red and golden in the east as the sun approached. Almost directly crossing the zenith was a clearly delineated terminator, separating night from day. It was a dream-like moment as I looked down at the fog covered valleys, the scene above, and with the anticipation of what I was to witness. Then, after a few minutes, far in the west through some trees we could see a brilliant silver-red arc light begin to ascend in a low trajectory, rising quickly leaving a grey-blue trail, then descending just as quickly to meet the sunrise in the east.

I was fascinated at the thought of people riding a candle through the dawn. But the best part, for me, was the look of amazement and excitement on the face of my eight year old daughter, standing in her cowgirl boots and pajamas on the mountaintop with that early morning scene unfolding before her. I know she will never forget it.