Publisher’s Letter: Night Sky Up on the Mountain

(Photo by Blaine Howerton) A small wind generator is temporarily perched on one of the dead-standing trees from the HIgh Park Fire.
By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

The first time an urban dweller sees the night sky in a rural setting, whether as a child or as an adult, can be spellbinding; in fact, it can be a game-changer. Without urban light pollution, the universe shows up in all its glory with its myriad of stars and galaxies, shooting stars, and occasional comets and meteor showers.

There are many things I love about my mountain property, the night sky being one of them. But when extraordinary celestial events show up from time to time, such as the Perseid meteor shower, I get exceptionally motivated.

Learning that there was an extended number of days when the meteor shower would be visible, I made the commitment to have some friends up to my mountain property for camping and stargazing.

It has been challenging enough to keep water flowing, emptying tanks, and keeping all the systems in the RV running off-grid for the three of us. Concern for how to accommodate more souls on the property for a few days was motivating!

Luckily, I have supportive and enthusiastic friends who spent hours helping me prepare. First, we widened a portion of my road — gotta have a place for these folks to park!

Second, was getting the water system adjusted so it’s easy to fill and top off the tanks. The water pressure is great but my challenge has been remembering to turn off the water after the tanks are full. I get distracted while it’s filling — can’t do that!

Third, has been maintenance on my two power generators and expanding solar and wind power. The generators top off my lithium-ion battery. Solar charges it all day long (when there’s full sun of course). Wind power supplements that day and night and during windy, cloudy days. I’m still testing that. I change the oil on the generators frequently. And slowly, I have been transitioning the system to have enough power to generate and store everything I need without running through fuel. But this is a long process of trial and error, troubleshooting, and reconfiguration.

Bringing a group of friends up to the property also motivated me to make sure we had a reliable communication connection. A few months ago, I installed Starlink Satellite Internet, and now with all of the new energy systems, I have been able to maintain 24/7 access to the Internet and phone communications. This proved invaluable during recent flash flooding in Poudre Canyon. Through LETA, I was constantly updated about evacuations in our area. It was comforting to know I would be notified if we needed to get out. And once, just in case, we did evacuate. My sons and I were safe and sound the entire time.

Now with things in place to bring up friends, I can sit back, relax, and have a beer while staying up crazy hours to watch the Perseid meteor shower, the best meteor shower of the year, known for its “fireball” displays. I’m looking forward to sharing my sacred space with my closest friends.

The Perseid meteor shower is visible over a number of days. According to earthsky.org “In 2021, the peak mornings of the Perseid meteor shower will be moon-free: August 11, 12, 13.”

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