Part of our love is discovering the heavens together. On this occasion (the day after Christmas) neither one of us had ever observed the Running Man Nebula. Exploring something new with each other is something that has gone on for decades. A long while ago I wanted to canoe; we learned together. A few years earlier, she wanted to learn to ski down a mountain; we learned together. Decades later (a little over a decade ago) she wanted a telescope. That led to one scope, then two, then using observing as an outreach tool in the ministry, then teaching teachers overseas how to teach the disciplines of observing the heavens.
This evening it was just Linda and Roland…plus one Running Man Nebula in the heavens…and God watching it all happen. It was a wonderful night to give thanks. We shared most of the evening by broadcasting the view on Night Skies Network. Guests and members can hear us when we do that, so many probably laughed at these “older kids” as we got excited about the detail of the object. Here is Linda’s observing sheet:
As usual, it took me longer to render the detail. The sketch below shows my results. Of course, I have included the equipment, time, object name, and an appropriate Scripture. They are the same elements we encourage for inclusion on the observing sheet if it is for a teacher’s review. In this case, the scripture from Isaiah includes a rhetorical question from God, who makes reference to His bringing all of the heavens into being, as He states in several locations. They all refer back to the days of creation in Genesis 1.
We are hoping we will discover more things together as we walk down this path with our Lord. We have been blessed with opportunities to learn together and share with others. To be the object of His love is a wonderful thing; to know and experience this together in our marriage is a blessing.
The end of the evening brought a hug, a kiss, and a goodnight to one another. We rested well. The next day came soon enough, but we still had sweet memory of an excellent observing period together.
Observing sheets were done on black Artagain sketch paper using pastels and white pencils. The equipment combination with an astro-video camera brings the signal to monitors in our home, where we set up a sketch station to observe and record the object as we watch it live. Actual drawing time is about 1.5 hours, which includes basic steps and procedures (the same ones we teach overseas) to help study and record the object as best we can. The colors (the faint blues, greens, and red) are real; the astro-video camera is able to detect the color in most cases. Stars are oversaturated as the camera tries to pull in the detail of the nebulosity. Each of us works separately on our recording the object.
The “Running Man” is really a darker foreground stellar cloud that has the shape of a man running to the left and downhill. NGC 1977 is the New General Catalog number for the object. It is located near the Orion Nebula. It is not easy to see with a medium-sized telescope, so the astro-video processing permits us to see much more than our eyes would see through an eyepiece.