Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, January 28, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, January 28, 2017 


The instrument at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, used by Clyde 
Tombaugh to discover Pluto is about to undergo renovation. The year-long 
project, which began on January 12, will include restoration of both the 
historic telescope and the wooden dome that houses it. While the telescope 
will be removed from the dome during this work, the dome will be open 
from time to time for public tours as work allows.

 The Pluto Telescope and its dome date back to the late 1920s, when 
Lowell Observatory recommenced the search for founder Percival Lowell’s 
theoretical “Planet X”. In the nine decades since, some areas of the dome 
have rotted, a few of the telescope parts have worn out, and the others need 
to be cleaned or stripped and repainted. The renovation will address these 
issues, as Lowell’s technical staff plans to replace part of the dome wood and 
then weatherproof the entire facility.

 The Pluto Telescope is technically known as an astrograph, a telescope 
specifically designed for taking photographs of objects in space. In addition 
to Tombaugh’s 1930 discovery of Pluto, the instrument was also used by 
Lowell astronomers to study comets and asteroids, as well as stars with 
measurable proper motion (apparent angular movement). But it is the Pluto 
discovery that continues to generate public interest in the facility, resulting 
in ever-increasing visitation from guests around the world. In 2016 alone, 
Lowell welcomed a record 100,000 visitors.

 The renovation comes two years after a similar effort on Lowell’s historic 
24-inch telescope and will be carried out by the same team of Lowell 
technicians. Like that instrument, the lens of the Pluto Telescope, measuring 
13-inches in diameter, was crafted by the Alvan Clark and Sons telescope 
making firm of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 Lowell Director Jeff Hall said, “Like the Alvan Clark refractor across 
campus, the Pluto Discovery Telescope is a national treasure. People come 
to Lowell from all over the world to see these historic telescopes, and I’m so 
pleased to see them restored and preserved for decades to come.”

 The Pluto Telescope and dome renovation will cost $155,000, all of which 
Lowell’s development team has raised through crowdsourcing, private 
donations, and a grant from Crystal Trust. Hall said, “We can’t undertake 
major projects like this without external support, and we’re grateful to 
everyone who has donated to make this happen.”

 While a young researcher working for the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, 
Arizona, Tombaugh was given the job to perform a systematic search for a 
trans-Neptunian planet (also called Planet X), which had been predicted by 
Percival Lowell and William Pickering.

 Tombaugh used the observatory’s 13-inch astrograph to take photographs 
of the same section of sky several nights apart. He then used a blink 
comparator to compare the different images. When he shifted between the 
two images, a moving object, such as a planet, would appear to jump from 
one position to another, while the more distant objects such as stars would 
appear stationary. Tombaugh noticed such a moving object in his search, 
near the place predicted by Lowell, and subsequent observations showed 
it to have an orbit beyond that of Neptune. This ruled out classification 
as an asteroid, and they decided this was the ninth planet that Lowell had 
predicted. The discovery was made on February 18, 1930. 


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




[Nyerges is the author of 
“Exrtreme Simplicity,” 
“Self-Sufficient Home,” 
“How to Survive 
Anywhere,” and other 
books. Information 
about his books and classes is available at www., or Box 41834, Eagle 
Rock, CA 90041.]

 Way back in 1976, a friend who ran a non-profit 
group shared with me a way to commemorate 
one’s birthday. Run a lap for every year, and 
mentally review that year as you run. Relive your 
life. There are many other details, but this is the 
essence of it. Take the time to run through your 
life, and look over how you got to where you are 

 This is essentially what I have done every year 
since then. My birthday this year in January 
of 2017 was no different. Though the leaders of 
the non-profit have encouraged their members 
to do this run as a group-activity, I felt the need 
for solitude this year. I wanted to review my past 
years, without having to talk it aloud to whomever 
might have come along to run with me. 

 Before noon, I found a somewhat isolated 
place to run down in the Arroyo Seco. It had 
rained previously, so everything was wet and 
muddy. It was sunny, yet it was still cold and 
breezy. Birds flew about overhead looking for 
possible meals in the new pools of water that 
head developed around the willows. I located 
one of the catchment basins that had been built 
to hold rain and river water, so it soaks into the 
water table. I liked the length of its perimeter 
berm, and began my run.

 I run one lap for each year, trying to remember 
all the significant events for that year. I tried to 
remember all my significant events, and how I 
was feeling about them way back when. Successes, 
failures, fears, challenges, obstacles, rejections, 
learning new skills, realizing that people don’t 
become more skilled and competent just become 
they grow older.

 In the first few years, very few memories were 
present. I ran in a large circle, trying to not pay 
much attention to my physical surroundings, 
trying to get back into the mindset of a newly born 
child. I saw my parents and I saw my teachers.

 I recall the phrase being asked to me so often, in 
the very early years, and especially as I grew older: 
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It 
was an odd question, I always thought, because 
the person asking really meant “what sort of a job 
do you think you will do for the majority of your 
life so you can earn money to pay your bills?” But 
I only heard “what do you want to be” and “when 
you grow up.” I had lots of interests, for sure, and 
I recall admiring other friends or associates who 
seemed to be so wholly engrossed in one task that 
they clearly had “become” that activity, whether 
sports, proficiency with a musical instrument, 
gardening, whatever. I had so many interests. 
Did I really have to decide on just one? And 
“growing up.” Will I know when I have “grown 
up”? I just naturally assumed that once I grew – 
that once anyone grew up – they would ipso facto 
become a stable member of society, an actively 
contributing member to a family and community, 
and someone who maturely made all the best 
decisions for now and the future. But I never 
saw those adults. I recall feeling disappointed 
as I “grew up,” seeing what I perceived to be vast 
incompetence, lack of willpower, and general 
confusion about what to do in life. I reasoned that 
if I enjoyed walking in the woods and studying 
plants and Native American history, what could 
be wrong with that?

 As I ran in early January, I felt that I had wasted 
so much time in school, constantly resisting the 
teacher, constantly thinking that my time would 
be so much better spent being somewhere else. 
But where? My problem and blindness, which I 
did not see back in my grammar school years, was 
that no teacher was ever really going to teach me 
anything, as if they were to serve me something 
on a silver platter. The real purpose of teachers 
and schools, I now realize, was to teach me how 
to teach myself, how to prime my thinking so that 
I learn what facts are useful in my life, and which 
facts are necessary to find out all the other things 
that were necessary to know.

 Round and round I went, in the mud, in the 
diminishing light of the cloudy day, reviewing 
school, and job, and relationships, and breakup of 
relationships, and moving from here to there, and 
traveling, and writing about things, and feeling 
the pain of the death of so many people around 

 During that time, I had just finished reading 
the remarkable book, “House of Rain” by 
Childs, about the possible fate of the Anasazi the 
American Southwest, and I could not help but 
think about people with an incredible low-tech 
technology, who built great houses and roads 
and canals, made pots and fabrics, and grew food 
when there was sufficient rain. Then something 
happened, and people were dispersed, or killed. 
As I ran, I thought of the fate of all of us, how we 
take so much for granted, how water is the most 
essential key to life, wherever we happen to be.

 Now, at 62, I was not so concerned about “what 
I will do when I grow up.” I was more concerned 
about the refinement of what I have been already 
doing. How do I make the world a better place for 
my having been here? Is any “revolution” more 
important than a personal revolution of my very 
thinking and going about my daily life?

 As I ran my final laps, it was so obvious that life 
is about people and our relationships, not about 
the stuff that we acquire. What we do is what we 
do, here and now. Live your life, and do it the 
best you can. Accumulating money, and buying 
a house, and degrees, and all that, are all OK, but 
we don’t want to get all caught up by the material 

 I stood in the stiffening breeze with the setting 
sun to the west, and it was so clear that life is to be 
lived in the now, and how you go about that doing, 
is everything.

Living in Florida my idea 
of winter is anytime the 
temperature drops below 
60°. At that point, I do the shiver-me-timbers 
dance. You don’t want to know!

 I have a rare disease called Coldaphobia. As 
far as I know, there is no cure for this except 
escaping to Florida. Even here, cold will manage 
to sometimes poke its nose into my business. All 
I can do at the time is sneeze, hoping it will scare 
the cold away.

 Experiencing a rather cold afternoon this past 
week, I queried the Gracious Mistress of the 
Parsonage on this subject.

 “Why,” I asked rather philosophically, “did God 
give us winter?”

 There are times when I do muse philosophically 
with a far-off look.

 In this mode, I sometimes think about that 
philosophical question, “How many angels can 
dance on the point of a needle?” I’ve often mused 
on this question, but the problem is I do not know 
how big angels are and if they really can dance.

 I guess it is in the same category as the question, 
“If a tree fell in the middle of a forest and nobody’s 
around, does it make a sound?”

 I like to think along those lines because there is 
no correct answer to any of them. So, my answer 
is right, which makes me feel good about myself. 
If there is anything I want to do, it is to feel good 
about myself. After all, nobody else feels good 
about me so it might as well be me.

 With all that in mind, the question that I posed 
to my wife deserved an answer. “Why did God 
give us winter?”

 My wife was busy in the kitchen at the time, but 
she turned around, put both hands on her hips and 
said, “So you could go out and buy a new sweater.” 
Then she went back to her kitchen activity.

 Of course, it did not really answer my question. 
Why is God interested in my sweaters? Why can’t 
he allow me to have a climate that eliminates the 
use of sweaters? I could handle that.

 Then my wife interrupted my muse session 
and said, “God gave us winter so that we would 
appreciate summer when it came.” Then she went 
back to her kitchen work.

 As I thought about that, I had to admit that she 
is right.

 That happens all the time. God gives us 
something that is not very comfortable at the time 
and then when it goes away we appreciate the quiet 

 Just like the neighbors when they are playing 
their music so loud it is thumping in my head, 
when they turn it off I appreciate the silence. But 
when all I have is silence, I fail to really value it.

 Getting back to winter. Of course, from my 
perspective, I cannot see any real value in winter. 
Sure, some people like snow. The only snow I like 
is on postcards. I have had enough of snow in my 
life that I do not want any more of it.

 Some people enjoy the snow; sledding, skiing, 
making snow angels. All of these things I can do 
without, thank you very much.

 However, as I was shivering this terrible winter 
afternoon, I got to thinking about how wonderful 
summer really is. In the middle of summer, I do 
not really appreciate it, as I should. Once it has 
gone, I sure do miss it.

 As I was shivering, I was thinking about all of 
the positive things about summer. And boy, are 
there many positive things about summer.

 For me, the most positive thing about summer 
is the fact that I am not dealing with cold. I love 
the heat and it cannot get too hot for me.

 As I was thinking along this line, I remembered 
one summer afternoon that was so stinking hot 
that could hardly breathe. My wife was sitting 
across the porch, she happened to sigh very deeply 
and say, “I’m tired of this hot weather.”

 Of course, I love my wife and who wouldn’t, but 
I cannot identify with being tired of hot weather. 
How can you be tired of hot weather?

 For me, I enjoy hot weather and the hotter the 
better for me. I do not mind sweating. One of 
the best things about summer is when I can say, 
“Honey, I would love to do that or go there but it’s 
really too hot.” She will smile at me and say, “Yes, I 
think you’re right. It is too hot.”

 Enough said.

 So why did God really create winter? It is in the 
winter when I am shivering so much, coughing 
and sneezing that I really begin to appreciate the 
significance of summer.

 In order to get us to appreciate something God 
takes it away from us temporarily until we come to 
the point of full appreciation. I believe God knows 
what he is doing. Going through a trial with all 
kinds of frustration and aggravation, I begin to 
appreciate those quiet times of waiting upon God.

 I wonder if that’s what Peter had in mind when 
he wrote, “That the trial of your faith, being much 
more precious than of gold that perisheth, though 
it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise 
and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus 
Christ:” (1 Peter 1:7).

 All those trials of winter lead me to praise God 
for the glory of summer.


 The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of 
God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. 
He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call 
him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.
net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.

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