[Jimbaux experienced an afternoon of astronomy.]
And The Heavens Said . . .
Like the rarity of specific alignments of celestial bodies, happening eons apart, making our human existence seem like the trifle matter that it is, so too did fate bring Jimbaux in contact with faces from the distant past.
I hope that you got to see it too. It was a historic afternoon at the St. George Observatory in Schriever, and I got to see some faces I had not seen in a really long time.
Curator Ken Stage took time out of hosting hundreds of people to help set up Jimbaux’s camera attached to his (Stage’s) big telescope (but not his biggest telescope.) Here’s the result.
The next time such a celestial event happens, I’ll be nothing but dust and bones, barring some miracle medical advances.
At the observatory, I saw a face that I had not expected to see, a face that I had forgotten, a face from a decade past.
An Encounter With An Old Adversary
The word “adversary” here is used quite loosely, as Cliff and I were never actually enemies, although I worked in student media when he worked for the university as a photographer, meaning, to us in student media, that he was part of the machine. Truthfully, though, I always liked him.
I thought that I recognized that face, but it took me several minutes to remember who he was, at which point I did say hello.
I ought to have remembered Cliff Fenton, as I did a feature story on him during my time with The Nicholls Worth. Not only does he no longer work for the university, but the son seen in the image below is from his new marriage, not the one referenced in the decade-old aforelinked article.
The lower appendages of Cliff’s new wife are seen at the top of the image below. The boy was vexing his father’s efforts to see through the telescope.
Partly for reasons that I referenced implicitly before, I did not spend enough time around Cliff that we could say that he was an influence on my photography, but you can tell from reading that article why its existence was the result of some of the curiosity that some of us in the newsroom had about him. Afterall, isn’t all journalism – shouldn’t all journalism be – the result of some curiosity about something? Didn’t Socrates tell us that wisdom begins in wonder? Didn’t Einstein say that he had no special gift, that he was only passionately curious? And isn’t astronomy a natural outcome of such curiosity?
That’s the lens through which I shot the transit. Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be hanging out by the track with one of those things. There were too many complications – including its increased height, a long line, a rapidly setting sun, and my increasing discomfort from the incessant heat and humidity – preventing me from getting a picture using that really big telescope (seen in the first picture and in the background in the third picture above), and the results from it would have probably shown much more detail than the one shot that I got, but we’ll just have to live with what we have, won’t we?
The Transit Of the M-NWOLAL
About two minutes and less than one mile away is the Sunset Route mainline, but about the only thing happening before dark this evening was BNSF Railway train M-NWOLAL (New Orleans to Lafayette) making a stop at Schriever to make a pickup in the pre-dusk lighting that is ever-so-slightly dimmed by Venus’s presence between the sun and the Earth. You can see the spent old ties removed in the recent tie-replacement project below.
There are two westbound manifest trains on the BNSF Lafayette Subdivision. One is the M-NWOLAL that you see here, and the other is the M-CSXLAL that you’ve seen more often on this site. The M-CSXLAL comes straight out of CSX’s Gentilly Yard in New Orleans and is a solid interchange train, while the M-NWOLAL carries stuff from every other railroad in New Orleans, mostly Norfolk Southern with Canadian National being a very close second. A closer inspection of the above image reveals some intermodal cars on the front end of the train, which does happen, since BNSF only runs one intermodal train weekly into and out of New Orleans.
See You On The Other Side
Thanks for the feedback on the profligate Sunday Sermon post from a couple of days ago. Yeah, wasn’t that crazy? This astronomically themed post was a little diversion from that, and I hope that you’ve found it entertaining and informative, but we’ll resume our regularly scheduled foamy madness and discussion of Freedom Of The Press issues soon. I’m exhausted from all of these activities as of late, and I really need some sleep; there really is no rest for the wicked (and money damn sure don’t grow on trees), but among the celestial movements, it all seems irrelevant, doesn’t it?