Monuments at Night, Nov 2

San Juan River Goosenecks, UT

In exchange for the aborted photo session, I enjoyed a full night of sleep and awoke recharged and ready to further explore the area.  After last night’s efforts, I recognized a few more things I am in need of:  AA batteries (of course), a blanket or tarp, and a stool, adjustable, for help while guiding the telescope at awkward positions.  I also needed to fix the too-tight declination gear on my telescope mount.  I noticed that there was dust on my digital camera sensor; I needed something to blow it off.  These are things I should be able to accomplish during the daytime hours while doing reconnaissance for my next nighttime excursion.

I headed north, back toward Monument Valley, this time looking for viewpoints with north-facing vistas, but all the interesting compositions seem to be east of north.  I continued, past the visitor center and campground, and then past the iconic bluffs into Utah.

Here I found Gooseneck State Park, a flat empty span at the top of a huge canyon of the San Juan river, which made meandering oxbow cuts into the mesa.  In the distance, the monuments I had left behind were visible on the horizon. 

At this pleasant site, I set up my telescope and mount and performed the fine-tuning needed to correct the misalignments from the bruises and bumps during travel.  I also corrected a guide mirror which I discovered I had installed backward.  I aimed the telescope at the distant monuments.  In this view they looked like Stonehenge.

Monument Stonehenge, the telescopic view.

The forecast was not encouraging, and on the way back I saw the buildup of clouds.  Still, the scenery was spectacular, and at sunset there was a momentary break in the clouds that allowed a nice silhouette. 

Sunset, returning to Monument Valley

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