This time we go west, wave at Fredericksburg as we pass, into the deep expanse of desert steppe and mesas. We have a date with the universe seven hours away to see light from galaxies that took two million years to get here.

What if we’re late?

We speed across Texas that for all it pulls faces I must admit is beautiful—out here, in nowhere, with scattered alien industry, ancient oil pumps slurping the earth breathing fire, wind turbines as far as the eye can see.

Wind turbines on a plateau.

It was dark by the time we hit the mountains, winding through the night with lightning flashing over ridges, just around the bend, to the McDonald Observatory Star Party. We are right on time for the clouds to disappear and peep in giant telescopes to wonder at Albireo, numbered nebulae and Andromeda rushing toward us.

We feel big and small and normal sized in quick succession and set up camp in the dark to wake to gorgeousness,

Steppe landscape.

all kinds of garbage melting out of us.

We want a picture of us with the observatory in the distance, the massive domes seen from Davis Mountains State Park.

The McDonald Observatory in the distance.

But operating under duress—batteries about to die, the sunglare intense—we can’t catch all of us.


Arthur pointing below the horizon.


Arthur and I with horizon in distance.


Another horizon pointing shot.

The light is only eight minutes old this time but so bright it blinds us from getting it right and out of nowhere Arthur’s arm turns into the mountain.

Arthur pointing to the horizon.

A year later and my favorite trick is still how he becomes the horizon.