We can never have enough of nature – Henry David Thoreau
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all – Helen Keller
What else can be a great pleasure in life than having a great company, good food and a beautiful place to explore. Just the day before to Memorial Day long weekend, we, a group of ten friends decided to head off to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park for a quick one day trip. We weren’t entirely sure of what all places to go, but we zeroed in on Tonto Natural Bridge as our first destination.
Let’s just go somewhere and not have any expectations can be one of the best escapes one can ever imagine. So, we took quick home prepped lunch and snacks and hit the road towards north of Payson, Arizona. As bright and warm weather welcomed us to the state park, we first had our lunch at the picnic tables and recreation area, before setting foot on the Pine Creek Trail. There are four different viewpoints from the parking lot to view the bridge from its top, but not until we hiked down the short rugged trail surrounded by pine trees, the spectacular view of world’s largest natural travertine bridge unraveled.
The bridge stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point. The amazing sight of sparkling water spilling off the bridge top is totally worth the hike.
There is some running water under the bridge and it was fun hopping over the boulders and soaking a little bit in the sprinkling waterfall. We took a lot of pictures, spent time hiking through the slippery rocks and admiring the vastness of the bridge.
There are three other trails Waterfall Trail, Gowan Trail and Anna Mae Trail. One of the them leads the way back up from the other side under the bridge.
It is a salubrious experience to explore Mother Nature and admire its wonders. Needless to mention the fun we had making our way through the rough trails in a spirit of adventure, this short one day trip to Tonto Natural Bridge remains one of my favourites.
Located in the Bradshaw Mountains of Central Arizona, is the city of Prescott that boasts of mild climate and serene nature, making it a great happening destination throughout the year for vacationers.
Be it a family picnic or a romatic getaway or a recreational trip, Prescott’s wilderness and its gorgeous lakes are a great choice.
The three major lakes that the City of Prescott maintains are Goldwater Lake, Watson Lake and Willow Lake. While the spectacular Goldwater Lake is a small reservoir nestled in the piney mountains of Prescott National Park, Watson and Willow Lakes are man-made reservoirs within the Granite Dells area located in the North of Prescott.
Goldwater Lake located 4 miles south of downtown Prescott in the Goldwater Park Area offers picnic area by the lake and recreational activities like fishing, kayaking and canoeing are allowed. Gentle breeze from the crystal clear blue waters of the lake and the surrounding whispering shady tall ponderosa pine woods enliven the mood and leave you refreshed. There are trails connecting to the Prescott National Forest from the lake area for enthusiastic hikers.
Amidst the eroded lumpy and rugged granite boulders of the Granite Dells are the man-made Watson and Willow Lakes. The enchanting blue waters of these lakes surrounded by the unique spectacular rock formations makes the vista quite scenic. The reflections of these rocks in the water on clear sky days makes the scene look even more breath-taking. There are hiking trails connecting the two lakes and camping, kayaking, canoeing and fishing are permitted.
So, if you are looking to beat the boredom blues, or if you want to escape the mundaneness of every day life, Prescottis one wonderful getaway to consider. Go and have a tryst with this great wilderness! 🙂
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt – John Muir
In every walk with nature, one recieves far more than he seeks – John Muir
We share this Earth with flora & fauna and the elements of nature. We humans think we are the most intelligent of all, while there is a lot for us to learn from nature. While we are a tangled mess of emotions, pride and predujices, nature is real, simple and pellucid. Hence, it is important that we connect with nature once in a while so we don’t forget our real nature.
Like someone rightly said, “If we were meant to be at one place, we would have roots instead of feet”. The more we move, the more we seek and the more we learn. And how wonderful is it when you can learn from the greatest teacher, Nature.
Here is a beautiful Suktha चरैवेति! चरैवेति! from the Aitareya Upanishad.
Charanbai madhu vindati charantsvadu mudambaram. Suryasya pasya sreemanam yo na tandrayate charan. Charaiveti, charaiveti – Aitareya Upanishad, 7.15
The honey bee, by its motion, collects honey, and birds enjoy tasty fruits by constant movement. The sun is revered, by virtue of its constant shining movement; therefore, one should be constantly in motion. Keep moving, keep moving on!
So, myself and my friends decided to march along and do a little hiking in the unique desert wilderness of Arizona. As the sun rose up the distant mountains, we marched up the hilly trails of Dreamy Draw listening to sounds of the gentle zephyr. It wasn’t just a fantastic workout, but also a soul searching experience.
“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another” – Plato.
I am happy to introduce our first guest blogger, Nikul, who happens to be an Astronomy Enthusiast. How cool does it sound? Read on to know what Astronomy, one of the oldest sciences means to him. We hope you get inspired. Do not forget to leave comments or start a discussion, the more the merrier 🙂
Beyond the blue sky – My most favourite Science
by Nikul Suthar
I’m writing this column to express my love for and my journey so far in one of my favorite hobbies – Astronomy. I believe that I achieved Astronomy as my love-by-birth quality like all the other natural qualities. This is because I realized it by myself and no one has ever made me realize it. I remember my very early childhood days when STAR-TREK and COSMOS original series were telecasted and I watched them with great awe and wonder. At that time I did not realize that its something I would be loving for the rest of my life. My grandfather, even though he was little educated is the first Astronomer I knew in my life, as he told me that the twinkling light in the night sky are called stars, they’re very big but are very far and therefore appear very tiny. It happens to many people that as and when they go through different stages in life their likes and dislikes keep changing. It’s the same for me, but my love for Astronomy has never changed and in fact it has ever been increasing only with the passing of time. I’m a Mechanical Engineer in undergrad studies, I did Computer Science in post graduation and have been working as an IT professional since last 10 years. I could not pursue my studies in Physics and then Astronomy or Astrophysics as my specialization subject in post graduate studies or PhD studies because of lack of job prospects at the time when I was seeking admission post 12th grade. So I decided to pursue Astronomy as an interest for the rest of my life.
Why is Astronomy important?
I believe that the subject Astronomy is one of the most important subjects ever known to human beings. Astronomy is considered as a mother of all subjects. It encompasses the whole creation, the Universe and all the knowledge within it. We humans, at one point or the other get eager to know who we are, where we are and what is about everything surrounding us. The answers are limited to world under the blue-sky and when the sky gets black at night, we get indoors forgetting much about our surroundings. But the real fact is that the world beneath the blue sky is not even a spec of the whole Universe. The Universe beyond the blue sky matters much more than the world beneath. The world beneath the blue sky is extremely different from the Universe and that world exists in the Universe and therefore we also exist in the Universe.
We have very very limited knowledge about the Universe. There’re potential dangers as well from the outer space to the planet Earth. We all now have enough convincing evidence that the extremely big Chicxulub meteor crater happened about 65 million years ago in the Yucatan peninsula triggered a huge change in Earth’s atmosphere making it extremely difficult for the Dinosaurs to survive. Most of them went extinct and the rest evolved to nowadays known birds and reptiles. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for 165 million years but since they did not had ability to think like we humans do, they were completely defenseless against such a big climatic change. If such an event to occur right now, then humanity is also more or less defenseless and is likely to perish or evolve by a big change.
Not only an asteroid impact, but there are other bigger dangers to the Earth that could destroy it, like a rogue or wandering planet in the Milky Way coming closer, or is on a collision course to the Earth. If a wandering Black Hole comes closer to the Solar System then it’ll swallow the Sun and the whole Solar System. If in a distant Supernova explosion, the emitted high energetic Gamma ray jet hits Earth’s atmosphere, then momentarily all the atmosphere will get extremely hot like a hell making it impossible for us to survive. Our Moon is going away from Earth by around an inch every year. Millions of years ago the Moon was much closer to Earth than now is. Earth’s axis of rotation, the high tides and the seasons are very much influenced by our Moon. A time will come when the Moon will leave revolving around the Earth and will revolve round the Sun and we will not be able to stop it. Then the Earth’s polar axis will change directions continuously, the ocean water will not have tides any more and the seasons will change very often. Around 5 billion years from now the Sun will begin to die and enter a phase called Nova. In the Nova phase the Sun will bloat so much that it will engulf at least three inner planets – Mercury, Venus and Earth.
Even if we assume that human beings evolve to physical and mental capability such that they’re able to survive all the above mentioned and other plenty more dangers, there is one entity of the Universe called the Dark Energy which is not only going to destroy the Earth but the whole Universe as well. Dark Energy is a property of empty space-time to keep increasing itself from nothing. So essentially all the space-time in the entire Universe is increasing itself since last several billion years and it’ll continue to increase exponentially. A result of this right now is that all the extremely distant galaxies several billion light years are going apart from each other. A time will come several-several billion years from now that all the galaxies, nebulae, stars, planets, molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons and quarks inside them will be ripped apart and there will be nothing left out other than pitch dark Universe. The question is can we stop this apocalypse? There is no way we can stop the Universe getting ripped apart and we have only several billion years to do it. Nothing will be there to be done in the whole creation. This Dark Energy is the biggest problem of the whole Universe and there is not much known about it. I hope this Dark Energy entity either entirely is a big misunderstanding or we get a solution to save the Universe from it.
All of the matter we see including ourselves, plants, animals, birds, planets, moons, Sun, Stars, galaxies, nebulae – all of that total in the whole universe comprises only about 4.9% of the total content of the universe. Around 26.8% of the matter called as Dark Matter is not being seen even if it is there in front of us. The scientific evidences indicate that it is there as it exerts gravitational force. Rest 68.3% of the content of the Universe is the Dark Energy which is essentially the entire fabric of space-time in the whole universe.
Dark Energy is expected to expand the universe to an ever accelerating rate beyond control which is called a Runaway Universe.
My Activity in Astronomy
So far, I’ve done some very small Astronomy projects, participated in several Star parties, have been operator of a computerized fully automatic telescope observatory and having small size automatic telescopes as well. I’ve been looking at our Moon, planets, Nebulae, Star clusters, double stars and galaxies. Years ago when I started using telescope I did not know much about it. In recent years, I learnt how to operate it as well as take some photographs using it along with a DSLR. Though I’m not a passionate photographer I like Astrophotography. The reason being that there’re so many beautiful deep space objects in the sky that are not so nicely visible through a human eye as it has an exposure time of only 1/12th of a second. With Astrophotography it is possible to capture a lot of details of the object and do scientific research on Spectroscopy as well. Humans have never gone beyond our Moon and therefore Astrophotography (visual, radio, X-Ray, infrared) and Spectroscopy are the only ways to know more about the celestial objects. So here I’m sharing some of my night sky photographs and my automatic telescope setup photographs.
And, here is my automated telescope setup with a Canon DSLR and a laptop hooked up, taking photos of the planet Jupiter when it was at a closest point to Earth during year 2017.
The beauty of Astronomy
The universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere is so different and every human being has a natural eagerness to know about it. Renowned Astronomer Carl Sagan said that we’re made of star-stuff. Meaning that all the matter we’re made up was once existing in a star. It is believed that the matter from which we’re made up once existed in a star much bigger than our Sun. For stars it is a fact that the bigger they’re the younger they die in a Supernova. That star must would have exploded to a Supernova emitting a huge nebula of gas and dust of most of the elements of the periodic table. That core of the star must would have condensed to a Black Hole and must be wandering in the Milky Way not known where it is right now. From that nebula our Solar System was born – our Sun, Planets, moons, asteroids and comets.
The Universe is so vast that it’s extremely difficult to imagine it. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe is estimated to be around 13.8 billion years old. The fastest any object can travel is at the speed of light even though the speed of light is extremely small than the size of the Universe. Therefore, the farther we look into the Universe we are looking that much backwards in time as well. So the age of the Universe of 13.8 billion years limits our capability to look into the past whereas the Universe is expected to be around 93 billion light years across and still growing. This is because the Universe is growing much faster than the speed of light. In such an enormous our Milky Way galaxy itself is insignificantly small in our Universe, our Solar System is insignificantly small in our Milky Way galaxy and we’re insignificantly small in our Solar System. There are more stars in the Universe than the total grains of sand in all the beaches on this world. But still we live in this Universe and it is our home as well. Till now no evidence or indication of extraterrestrial life outside our Earth is known. But looking to the estimated count of galaxies, stars and planets it can never be ruled out that the origination of life on places other than Earth has not happened or will never happen.
There is a Multiverse theory without any evidence stating that our Universe is not the only Universe but there’re infinite other Universes getting born and then either get much similar to our Universe or way too different from our Universe. Based on Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger’s thought experiment (paradox situations) so called “Schrodinger’s cat” theory all the possible outcomes at any point of time are not in-correct. One may think this at first as stupid. But according to the Multiple Universe theory out of those multiple outcomes only one outcome is witnessed in our Universe and others are happening in other Universes slightly different from our Universe. There’re infinite such Universes and the whole creation is also called a Multiverse. So essentially our identical clone must be existing in other parallel Universes and can start behaving different from us at any point of time. The beauty of our Universe is endless and timeless.
Following are some Astronomy related quotes by great scientists and philosophers:
“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” – Socrates, Philosopher
“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.” – Plato, Philosopher
“To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.” – Stephen Hawking, Astrophysicist
“Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away, if your car could go straight upwards.” – Sir Fred Hoyle, Astronomer
“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” – Carl Sagan, Astronomer
“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust.” – Lawrence Krauss, Astrophysicist
Astronomer Carl Sagan requested NASA to take photo of Earth when Voyager 1 space craft reached 4 billion miles away from us but still within the Solar System. In the photo the Earth appeared not even to the size of the smallest pixel. He then explained that everybody born and everthing done by everybody is there in this insignificantly small portion of the Universe called the “Pale Blue Dot”.
I’m going to be in this hobby for the rest of my life and will be doing it with utmost interest, dedication and purity. I’ll spread awareness of Science and Astronomy to the people without any interests. This is because Science is evident only and which is not evident is not Science.
Ask me what intrigues me the most. My prompt reply would be ‘the transformer, the supreme concept of Lord Shiva‘. I feel that Shiva is there but no where. How simple, soft, compassionate, straight-forward and formless and yet so powerful, infinite and fascinating is He? He is an enigma.
Ask me where I want to go all the time. In my mind there is this ancient stone Shiva temple tucked away in a deep forest and with a river burbling by its side, bringing me a whole lot of tranquility and inner peace taking me far from this tumultuous world. Yet, the question still remains. Can inner peace be achieved only by running away to a serene place? What is the idea of Shiva telling me..to run away or to flow with life? And I think, the answer is this simple – “Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected”.
My today’s post is about one of my most favourable places on this earth, the ancient Hindu Shiva Temple and one of the 12 Jyothirlingas, Trimbakeshwar.
Jyothirlinga, the infinite pillar of light means ‘The Radiant Sign of The Almighty Shiva‘. Trimbakeshwar is surrounded by three hills namely Brahmagiri, Nilagiri and Kalagiri. River Godavari originated in these hills and can be seen distantly from the Lord’s abode. A very serene place, it gets more verdant during monsoons. About the temple, read more here on wiki.
It is a very positive experience visiting Trimbakeshwar. You will be given yourself after the visit. You will be left with some new questions in mind and you will get some answers too. You will be left in a unique peaceful state of mind to continue your quest for the light. The simplicity and stillness of the place combined with the aura and holiness of the formless Jyothirlinga radiates good vibes and shows you the right direction.
Let me be frank. I don’t get it when people say what’s in Grand Canyon except for the rock. Personally, I get very philosophical every time I visit it or think about it. May be it’s just me, as it is said ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder‘. So, here is my little ode to this magnificent natural wonder that awe-inspires me every single time I visit it.
Standing royal, the Grand Canyon reiterates the power of nature to us. Every glance at its dimensions takes our breath away and each attempt to peruse it reminds us how tiny we are in this Universe. It inspires us to be undeterred by the trivial problems of life and to stand sentinel to protect ourselves and those who trust in us. Here is my Grand Salute, to The Grand Canyon!
This photograph was taken by me a few years ago when we visited the Canyon during winter time. Isn’t it more stunning to see it dotted with snow, and don’t you agree that no camera can beat the naked eye’s view! 🙂
Do share links of your blogs on Grand Canyon, I would love to read!
Let me begin with this quote, Art takes nature as its model – Aristotle.
I have been longing for a while to get my creative self explore the surreal yet very real Madhubani/Mithila Art. Like they say some days Motivation finds you, today I let my monochromatic black and white imagination flow and take the shape of a Katchni style Madhubani Painting. Before I brief you about this art form, here is the small painting that I finished today…and I thoroughly enjoyed doing every detail, and especially since I chose my favourite Sun God as the subject.
Mithila or Madhubani Art is a very old art form originating from the Mithila region of India and Nepal, the majority of which falls within modern day Indian state of Bihar. This fascinating folk art which was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts is characterized by the use of geometric shapes and patterns to depict nature and mythology. The themes represent scenes of courtship, wedding and other folklore, and revolve around illustrating devotion, love, prosperity, fertility, valor, good luck etc in the form of specific symbols like fish, the Sun God, peacocks etc each of which has a specially associated meaning. The modern day Madhubani Paintings are being done on paper and cloth also, using colors that are plant derived and paper that is hand made. If you are an avid reader and an art enthusiast and want to know more about this specific art form, this book ‘Madhubani Painting by Upendra Thakur’ is quite a good read.
What captivated me about this art form was the remarkable usage of elements in nature to depict life events stating that nature and man are inseperable. The striking and distinctive style involving geometric patterns for detailing makes it easy to read these paintings. Be it the monochromatic black and white line work called the Katchni style or the Bharni style where subjects are filled with vibrant solid colors or the less detailed Godhna style where figures appear in symmetry and concentric, Madhubani paintings are sure to leave you in awe-inspiration, and like Leonardo da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
And, I end my small write-up on Madhubani Paintings leaving it all to your art hungry soul to research more about this fascinating art form and if possible encourage. Have a wonderful day readers, and painters. 🙂