Celestial Photographs by Jeff Haidet • Earthbound Photographs by John Gessner
It’s not necessary to climb a mountain to reach the stars, but sometimes you have to dress like it. During the great January freeze of 2018, when the polar vortex decided to dispatch its nose-hair-freezing temperatures south, Jeff Haidet spent his evenings in the Grande Pines Observatory with the roof open, staring into deep space and a case of frostbite at the same time. Maybe not frostbite. His base camp, well, house is less than a hundred yards away. Nonetheless, here is a man who makes hay when then the sun doesn’t shine. Or the moon. “Everyone he knows, knows he hates the moon,” says Jeff’s wife, Vicki. If your intention is to draw a bead on the Running Man nebula in the constellation Orion, the glow of the moon is nothing more romantic than a bad case of light pollution.
The Grande Pines Observatory is as likely to be mistaken for the Gemini Telescope as Jackson Springs is for the top of Mauna Kea, but it’s surprising what can be seen if you know where to look. Most people have a shed for gardening tools. The Haidets have one for citizen science. The official observatory code of the 10-by-12-foot building is W46, the number associated with the data Haidet voluntarily supplies to the Minor Planet Center, part of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and to the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. One is the worldwide clearinghouse for all things asteroid, the other is Near Earth Objects.
One does not provide data to these institutions by picking up the phone, calling an 800 number and saying, “Dude, write this down.” They won’t talk to you until they know you’re worth listening to. “You have to send them data to prove you can get to the tolerances they want. You’re getting down to an accuracy of less than an arc second,” says Jeff. “An arc second is a dime at 2.4 miles. Put a dime somewhere down in Foxfire, and we can measure it from here with the right techniques and the right equipment. That’s the kind of accuracy you have to get.”
Wow! Before we moved here, we heard about the Dogwood Trees in the spring. We totally under-estimated the beauty and the number of trees.
They are spectacular -- and they are everywhere. Among the pine trees in Grande Pines, along the side of every country road, in all of the parks, lining village roads. Pink, red and white.
It seems that every house has at least one in the garden and I am positive that each of the area's 43 golf courses features a number of Dogwoods. The official state tree of North Carolina is proudly on display in the Pinehurst area! Visitors welcome...
The view on the left is of the railway line that runs through the middle of the Village of Southern Pines.
Posted By Darroll Buytenhuys