A Visit To Kyoto University’s Kwasan Observatory
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Unfazed by the Transit  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Unfazed by the Transit

Last week during the transit of Venus, I took the opportunity to check out the astronomical observatory I've seen for years on a nearby mountain. I've always wanted to visit... I was deeply into astronomy as a teenager, going so far as to start to grind a mirror for an 8" reflector telescope I intended to build, when it all got left behind after seeing a computer for the first time.

Anyway, I still have interest, so I decided to take a hike up there to check the place out. On the way I snapped a few photos...

Restaurant Entrance  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 110mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Restaurant Entrance

The last time I posted something from this entrance (here), it seems that I captioned it identically, so I guess I don't have much imagination other than that this is... well... the entrance to a restaurant.

The path gets steep even while still in the city streets, so the middle of the streets have steps for pedestrians, while the non-middle areas are left drivable....

Steps in the Middle of the Street  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Steps in the Middle of the Street
Nice View of the Main Gate of the Heian Shrine  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 170mm — 1/2500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Nice View of the Main Gate
of the Heian Shrine

I took the trail up to Shogunzuka (where I often go to try to get a nice sunset, as I did the other day). It's mostly quite mild hiking (like this), but early on is very steep for a short while...

Steep Switchbacks  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
Steep Switchbacks

Still, it's nothing like the Mt. Hiei hike that I tried the other day. The most intense three minutes of this hike, if extended to a few hours, would be that hike.

Once you get up the initial steep area, it's pretty mild...

Nature Field Trip  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Nature Field Trip
Be Careful at Night  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Be Careful at Night

I came up through the Shogunzuka area at the top of the mountain, with its sweeping view of Kyoto, then took the road partially down the other side. Eventually one comes to a small side road....

Observatory Is That Way  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Observatory Is That Way

... and then immediately finds something that definitely doesn't look like an observatory:

Impressive  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 82mm — 1/500 sec, f/10, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Impressive
Just About The Most Polite Way one can say “KEEP OUT”  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Just About The Most Polite Way
one can say “KEEP OUT”

I'm not 100% sure what this place is, but it's not a typical old Kyoto temple. I've heard enough to be wary of the folks involved, so I did not venture in. But if they (whoever they are) intended a gorgeous face projecting power and wealth, they achieved their goal.

Building On The Other Side of the street  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/500 sec, f/14, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Building On The Other Side
of the street
Simple Veranda  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 135mm — 1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Simple Veranda

Not much further along the road and we're at the decidedly less-spectacular entrance to the observatory.

Observatory Entrance With a somewhat less polite “KEEP OUT” in the background  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 86mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Observatory Entrance
With a somewhat less polite “KEEP OUT” in the background

Walking further along the road, eventually I get my first close-up glimpse of a building I've seen many times from afar...

Thar She Blows  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm — 1/4000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Thar She Blows
Informal Observation in the waiting area  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 110mm — 1/2500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Informal Observation
in the waiting area

They had by-reservation-only tour groups going through, but seeing as I didn't need a place on the shuttle bus and I was already there, they kindly allowed me to participate.

The little telescope seen above gave a remarkably good view of the sun, and even more remarkable was what I was able to get when I shoved my iPhone up to the eyepiece:

Taken with my iPhone peering into the eyepiece of the small telescope in the photo above  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/120 sec, f/2.4, ISO 80 — map & image datanearby photos
Taken with my iPhone
peering into the eyepiece of the small telescope in the photo above

Everyone was pretty shocked at how well it worked, and I was soon pressed into “take one using my cell phone” service. It's quite difficult to get the alignment right by hand, and I couldn't do it for some, but it was nice to try to be of service.

On the tour, we saw various things around the observatory's many buildings, including the walk-in (literally) solar telescope....

Primary Mirror of a complex walk-through solar telescope  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Primary Mirror
of a complex walk-through solar telescope
Secondary Mirror being explained  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 78mm — 1/1000 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Secondary Mirror
being explained

Sunlight naturally hits the primary mirror, which reflects it up to the secondary mirror. Both mirrors can adjust their angle to match the movement of the earth, so the light coming off the secondary mirror is always beamed straight into the main telescope housing...

Inside the Solar Telescope  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 450 — map & image datanearby photos
Inside the Solar Telescope

The light hits a couple of other mirrors within the telescope, the details of which I didn't quite get, but it's eventually beamed across a hall to a small collector which feeds it into another room where they can hook up instruments and cameras and such. For the tour, they had a piece of paper placed in front of the collector as a projection screen, so we could see the nicely formed image.

Projection of the Sun was really really really bright  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Projection of the Sun
was really really really bright

It was really really really bright. I had to reduce the exposure by many stops just to keep the projection from blowing out.

Drive Wheel on the primary mirror of the solar telescope ( I was thinking to use this for one of “What am I?” quizzes )  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Drive Wheel
on the primary mirror of the solar telescope
( I was thinking to use this for one of “What am I?” quizzes )
Confusing photo through the first mirror to the second mirror with a fuzzy third and subsequent mirrors (and my head) reflected in the background  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Confusing
photo through the first mirror to the second mirror
with a fuzzy third and subsequent mirrors (and my head) reflected in the background
Telescopes Everywhere  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120mm — 1/3200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Telescopes Everywhere

The observatory has two domed buildings, the smaller of which we went in. It housed a pair of refracting telescopes (the straight look-through kind a pirate sea captain might have, but much bigger), with a bunch of complex-looking controls within reach...

Complex  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Complex
Electrical Transfer for the rotating dome  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/500 sec, f/4, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Electrical Transfer
for the rotating dome

This shows the answer to the Oh-So-Obvious “What am I?” Quiz the other day. The bright orange color was in stark contrast to the rest of the 81-year-old building.

One of the members of the tour was 13 years old when the building was finished. It was my pleasure to be able to assist her down the narrow steep banister-less stairs when we exited the observatory. At 94, she was still spry enough, mentally and physically, to want to come on the tour. At less than half her age, I can only wonder how I'll be if I make it that far.

Well-Oiled the smallest gear was the size of an apple  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Well-Oiled
the smallest gear was the size of an apple
Parting Shot in the waiting area  --  Kyoto University Kwasan Observatory (京都大学 花山天文台)  --  Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/40 sec, f/2.4, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos
Parting Shot
in the waiting area

My main camera (Nikon D700) battery ran out at about this time, a first for me in many years of shooting to run out of battery (except when doing many long exposures, which drain the battery very quickly).

Lacking the ability to take photos on the way home, I made a nonstop hike home; it took about 40 minutes.


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