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Tucson Gem Show

The observatory was great last night, until the full moon rose and obliterated the darker objects in the sky. Emma saw the a few bright stars, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Orion Nebula, and a star cluster. With a Meade LX-200 telescope, you can really get a nice view. Check out the Butterfield RV Resort in Benson AZ if you want to try the telescope some time.

Of course it was a homeschooling event as well. Emma didn't really appreciate how far away or how large stars were. It was fun to show her a blue giant star and explain that the light we were seeing has been traveling for 1400 years to get to our eyes. We also talked about how nebulas are giant clouds of gas in which stars are born, a concept that Emma seemed to find fascinating. Of course, a six-year-old's grasp of these things is pretty limited, but at least we've gotten a start.

Tucson gem show.jpg
A few geodes at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Today we moved about fifty miles to Tucson and set up at Beaudry's. Our Google Earth location. There are at least three other Airstreams here, and hopefully we'll meet up with some of their owners on Sunday. But today we headed straight out to one of the many Gem & Mineral Show venues to look at more rocks.

Emma spent most of her time watching the ground. Lots of fragments end up discarded on the ground, and nobody seems to mind if she picks them up. So I ended up with a pocket of a wild variety of small stones collected by Emma: opalite, lapis lazuli, goldstone, "sleeping beauty" turquoise, black opal, fire citrine, green catseye, and several other interesting bits we can't yet identify. None are larger than 1/2", and some are just tiny chips.

The nice thing about the show is that every venue is different, with all kinds of interesting stuff -- not just rocks. Jewelry, crafts, beads, food, Indian art, leather, tools, etc. The other nice thing is that admission and parking are free. We saw just one venue today, so there's a lot more for the next few days.

Book report: Dr C sent me a copy of "On The Border" by Tom Miller, which I finished last week. It's a great series of vignettes of real life in the Mexican border zone in 1980s. Miller argues that the border is functionally its own country, with unique laws, rules, customs, and problems, and he documents it beautifully in stories both funny and sad. Although the book is a little dated now, my experience with the border suggests that things haven't changed much since 1985.

Miller couldn't foresee the massive increase in border paranoia that would come. Concern over drugs, terrorism, and "UDAs" has made the border more tense, more complex. But the book is still good reading if, like us, you spend time in this unique territory.

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