June 29, 2017

A Weekend of Sun, Fun & Astronomy at Delray Beach, Florida!

Delray Beach sunrise. (All photos in post by Author).

Stargazing and traveling are literally a “match made in heaven”; as long as there’s a sky to be seen overhead, your observatory can be said to be where ever you make it. Such was the case this past weekend, when we bundled up the ‘scopes and made the pilgrimage to the Atlantic side of the Florida peninsula to Delray Beach for three days of sun, fun and a little surreptitious stargazing while based out of the Marriott Spa and Resort. Perhaps astronomy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one journeys to Delray Beach, but this slice of “Old Florida” has lots to offer. We started off dinner at 50Ocean just above Boston’s on the Beach, an outstanding restaurant complete with one of our astronomical faves, Blue Moon beer. One of our first astronomical exploits occurred when we journeyed down to the beach early Saturday morning to watch a swift pass of the “doomed” Phobos-Grunt spacecraft. She was really moving through the hazy southern Florida skies; I always can’t help but wonder every time I see this transient visitor to our skies if this time will be our last…

A fortunate Moonshot!

But it was on to all things terrestrial with a morning tour of Delray Beach via Segway with the Electric Experience. This was a first for us; the staff at The Electric Experience was first rate and assured we knew how to handle the curious devices before setting us loose on the town. I can personally attest that a Segway is a unique way to see the Delray Beach!

…and what better way to unwind afterwards than a massage back at base camp at the Marriott Spa and Resort? This was a great way to alleviate the maladies of “Blogger’s wrist” and “Meteor observer’s neck.” Hey, astro-blogging’s a hard life, but somebody’s gotta do it…

But it was then onward to a night of culinary fine dining at the Buddha Sky Bar, where I had some of the best Sushi of my life. And I lived in Japan for 4 years! Of course, I couldn’t resist stepping out prior to departure for an excellent pass of the International Space Station near Venus as seen from southern Florida, an awesome before-dinner treat. At the Buddha Sky Bar, we enjoyed an excellent Saki-based cocktail known as The Last Samurai as the near-Full Wolf Moon shined through the glass-vaulted ceiling. And speaking of which, a stroll down by the Atlantic Ave draw bridge provided a chance for some quality moonrise photography:

Wolf Moon rising with palms.

But after dinner and retiring back to the hotel was when the serious star party action began. We set up on the patio outside the Marriott with our trusty C8” Celestron to show off all that is the universe. M42, Jupiter, Castor, Rigel, and of course the Moon were all big hits. We even performed a small feat of visual athletics and successfully located Hind’s Crimson Star to the delight of our guests.

Stargazing outside the Delray Marriott…

But our astronomical adventures were not limited to the nighttime. We set up for solar viewing on the beach with our trusty and ultra-portable PST, showing off to the curious the wonders of our nearest star. Sol also did its part, displaying a series of fine prominences for beach goers and curious security personnel alike  as we explained the workings of the Sun, the telescope, and astronomical death and destruction on a sunny Sunday morning. I love the beach, the improbable flatness of the ocean horizon (at least to the naked eye) and its ancient feel… hey, at least that’s what WE notice when we go to the beach! Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory would understand…

Mmmmm… sushi…

To round off the adventure, we headed to Max’s Harvest, a “Farm to Fork” establishment that offered an outstanding breakfast. Perhaps that’s where the miracle of existence is really at, that a giant ball of nuclear fusion like our Sun can produce copious amounts of energy all so it can fuel our biosphere and find its delicious way onto our plate in the form of an asparagus-lobster frittata and squash blossoms for Sunday brunch. What a wondrous universe we live in… and one that you too can experience the finer slices of in Delray Beach, Florida!

 

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