Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bastrop State Park

As part of our 5th anniversay, I took my wife to stay at one of the historic C.C.C. cabins in Bastrop State Park. These were created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.), the first New Deal recovery program started after his inauguration on March 4, 1933. While here, we did a little geocaching too.

On the second night of our trip, we drove in to Austin to eat at a fancy restuarant and view the stars through the Painter Hall Observatory on the University of Texas campus.

The 9-inch telescope has a long history with the University. The lens in the telescope is actually older than the tube, mount and dome and was ground a little before the turn of the 20th century by the John A. Brashear company -- one of the finest lens makers of the time. The tube and mount were made by the Warner and Swasey Company of Cleveland and was placed in Painter Hall when the building was constructed in the early 1930s. The dome appears green from the outside because of its high copper content, which oxidizes to a patina similar the color seen on the Statue of Liberty. The inside has been painted but in areas where the paint has chipped, the brilliant original copper can be glimpsed. Unlike most modern telescopes, no electricity is required to operate the clock drive on the telescope. Instead, the drive is wound up to raise a weight which will drop throughout the evening and turn the drive gears.

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