Wow. What. A. Weekend.
As I said last time, I was looking forward to getting out to see new things and hang out with other photographers, and man did I hit the jackpot on both. Saturday I went with the Chicago Science Field Trips Club to visit Yerkes Observatory up in Wisconsin. Not only had I never been there, I had never heard of such a place! With as many astronomical luminaries that have been there (along with it's association with the University of Chicago and the White City Exposition), I am ashamed of my negligence.
A quick refresher, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Yerkes Observatory, which calls itself "the birthplace of modern astrophysics,", is an astronomical observatory operated by the University of Chicago in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. It was created in 1897 by George Ellery Hale and financed by Charles T. Yerkes. The observatory represented a shift in the thinking of observatories, from mere housing for a telescope and observer, to the modern concept of observation equipment integrated with laboratory space for physics and chemistry. A 102 cm (40 inch) refracting telescope built by the master optician Alvan Clark is located inside. It is the largest refracting telescope used for scientific research (a larger demonstration refractor, the Great Paris Exhibition Telescope of 1900, was exhibited at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900).
In addition to the Yerkes refractor, the observatory also houses 102 cm (40 inch, referred to as the "41 inch" to prevent confusion) and 61 cm (24 inch) reflecting telescopes. Several smaller telescopes are used for educational outreach purposes.
Current research includes the interstellar medium, globular cluster formation, infrared astronomy, and near-Earth objects. Additionally, the University of Chicago maintains a sizable engineering center in the observatory, dedicated to making and maintaining scientific instruments. As of May 2007, the engineers are working on the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC), which will be an integral part of Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
Not only does it have the scientific chops, the building itself is beautiful. Don't believe me? See for yourself:
And that's just the front door. I ended up with over 400 photos of this place, but I'll spare you having to sort through them all. I will be adding a few a day to my Flickr, if you are so interested.
Ok, so maybe one more.
On Sunday, April and I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the Nature Photographer's Meetup. We got up bright and early and got to the garden around 7:30 (we would've gotten there a little earlier, but you know, breakfast). The botanic garden is a great place to begin with, but when you throw in the great people we met, it was all the better.
While I did take over 300 shots (seriously, when did I start doing this? I'm usually a done in one kind of guy), I did manage to sneak in a few toy shots ever so slyly.
Not only did I meet lots of great people, go to new and great places, and take a ton of pictures...
I jumped back into Plastic 52.
Wow. What. A. Weekend.