Wednesday, November 16, 2022


     This may sound strange, even a little un-American, but I belong to a cult that doesn't watch football on Sunday afternoons. Instead, we have our own autumn rituals. Things like going for a hike, a bike ride or a late season paddle. Sometimes we even spend the day (gasp!) visiting art museums.

     That's what Gwenne, Holly and I did recently. Took the short drive to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. The campus is a pleasure in itself. Usually I come here to walk and botanize in the North Woods. There you'll find a network of trails in a forested area adjacent to the college. But in early fall it's enjoyable to stroll on the more manicured grounds amongst the classrooms and dorms. Something about the start of a new academic year and the fresh energy of students from all over the world... 

Holly's photos of Skidmore campus

     But the real focus of our outing was the Tang Teaching Museum and a new exhibit called Parallax. I'm a sucker for anything about astronomy (or its more down to earth cousin - geology). That's why I wanted to see the show. I'ld heard it was about stars. Well, it sort of is. Just not quite in the way I had anticipated. Artists see things differently, and seeing things from a different perspective is what the installation is all about.

The Tang Teaching Museum

     Our understanding of the universe is expanding as fast as, well, as fast as the universe itself is expanding. I'm fascinated by Hubble and Webb images, intrigued by the latest research and discoveries and baffled and amused by the ideas of those 'out-there' theoretical physicists (worm holes, multiverses, stars with consciousness!).

Hubble image

     There's scientific study of the heavens and then there is simple wonder. Every clear night I go outside and look up. No tech, no magnification, no thought to spectral analysis or red shift. Just the Moon, the stars and the planets working their magic on me as they have on others since the very beginning.

At the Tang

     The question theTang exhibit poses is whether we all see the same thing when we look up. An introduction calls parallax "a metaphor for shifting perspective" that "reminds us that no two cultures, nations or minds perceive the apparently 'universal' universe in the same way." It seems our relationships with the cosmos, the ultimate 'place' is as diverse as our relationships with more plebeian places: our town, county, region. I have to admit, not all of the art spoke to me. Some of it seemed odd, strained, indecipherable. I'm happy checking out the APOD, reading Sky and Telescope and simply looking up at night, just like I've always done. But that's me and you may react differently. See how your perspective matches others at the Tang, where Parallax: Framing the Cosmos is on view till next June. 



     * I believe students lead tours every Sunday afternoon, making that a good time to visit. Unfortunately, I didn't get the name of the young lady who gave our tour. She was great. Her insights plus the comments of others on the tour enhanced my appreciation of the art. Go to the Tang's website for more info.


     * Artist Alyson Shotz (Entanglement) will talk with several Skidmore faculty in the Dunkerley Dialogue at 6pm on Thursday, November 17 in the Billie Tisch Center for Integrated Sciences.

    * It's a good week for skywatching with Jupiter and Mars dominating the evening scene. You'll also want to keep an eye out for meteors. The Taurids are noted for the occasional fireball and the Leonids should peak early Friday morning, November 18th.

Web image

     * Also wanted to share Carl Heilman's photo of the lunar eclipse from earlier this month:

Carl Heilman photo

Finally, todays double take...

I heard NASA was going back to the Moon but didn't know 
they were launching from Fort Edward. Seen along Rt. 4 south of the village.