This installment of the Pinnacles Astro 27 / Geo 27 class was graced with clean dark skies (at least, after the first couple of hours on Friday night). Kirk Bender did another great job in capturing the many teaching moments. There are just a few here, but his full photo collection features many artistic shots as well.

We had a solid week of clouds and light rain which was supposed to clear, but didn't - until finally on Friday night at 9pm it began to part. We had beautiful skies thereafter. Kirk brought his 12.5" scope and he and I kept in good synch as we explored the stages of stellar evolution with examples of star formation emission nebulae, stellar associations, open star clusters, Main Sequence stars, carbon stars, red giants, and the end times for a star - planetary nebulae, white dwarfs, and two supernova remnants (the Veil, and Crab nebulae). Saturday night we explored galaxy types, galaxy evolution, and a good lecture on the origin of the universe, inflation, and the MultiVerse paradigm.

I've entered the Morgan Hill Half Marathon for Oct 28, and this was prime time to get in some hard training before beginning to taper. I took the opportunity to do the High Peaks trail as a long run, detouring by the reservoir and partway up the trail to Chalone Peak before coming down through the lower Bear Gulch caves and running on past the visitor's center, the exquisitely beautiful canyon shaded by sycamores, oaks, waterfalls, and rock formations, down to the Chalone Creek trail and back to camp. 10.4 miles. Sunday, I ran back up, through the Bear creek canyon again, up the High Peaks trail just to the first lecture overlook - 6 miles. I did a couple more miles on Monday, and then 10 more miles running up through the Pogonip to UCSC for an outstanding astronomy colloquium on the latest theoretical work on planet formation in protoplanetary disks on Wednesday. That's 28 miles in 5 days, which is about as much as I've ever done. Not bad for a guy hitting 60 this year!


The fog begins to clear!


Great, moody shot capturing the Milky Way and a student doing a little late night studying in her tent

Geo lecture next to an interesting rock formation.

The Bear Gulch Reservoir - I paused here on my run and saw 4 red-legged frogs. What a pleasure! I had not seen frogs in this reservoir for at least 10 years. This species is endangered. I hope they can make it.

No open fires allowed this fire season, but we brought along a gas-fired "campfire" which provided the right warmth and ambiance during the lectures.

Great shot, Kirk! Good enough to be the title picture.