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A Special Publication of The Addison Independent, Summer, 2014 — PAGE 9A

What do you like about biking here?

Scan Vermont’s night sky and feel inspired Editor’s note: After a year’s hiatus, the unlike any other. So when the infrequent opportunity to view Middlebury College Physics Department this summer will again host a series of open house the stars from the top of BiHall arose one sumnights at the college observatory this summer. mer night, I jumped at it. I would finally get to Two summers back, Addison Independent in- see what all the hype was about. Space, and all of its infinite possibilities, is tern and Middlebury College junior Lauren Davidson wrote about the excitement she felt at the subject of conversation on a much larger, seeing the cosmos through the lens of the col- national level, too. With the landing of NAlege observatory high atop McCardell Bicen- SA’s newest project, the Mars rover Curiosity, people are once again being made aware of the tennial Hall. mysteries of space. After years of discussion By LAUREN DAVIDSON My Vermont summer is rapidly coming to a on whether the space program is deserving of federal funds, the public is coming close, and with that, I am happy that around to supporting NASA after I finally made it to one of the most Stepping out this successful mission. Has scielusive places on my list: the roof of McCardell Bicentennial Hall on onto the roof I ence become cool again? With the world primarily focused the Middlebury College campus. realized that on the Olympics, featuring the pinThe looming presence of the build- the Vermont nacle of human physical ability, ing is one that I know very well, but sky is like perhaps Curiosity can remind us its top floor is another story. One may not think the roof is no other. The of the possibilities of the human mind. And on a much more tiny particularly hard to get to, but it is wonders of scale, without spending billions of nearly always locked for security the crystal dollars, one can be reminded of this purposes. It is opened only for speby simply taking the elevator up cial occasions and astronomy class- clear views es. I say nearly always because on that we have to the roof of BiHall on a special Wednesday night. rare occasions the roof will be left the privilege Stepping out onto the roof I reunsecured; it then serves as a haven to view are alized that the Vermont sky is like for curious college students willing no other. The wonders of the crysto take the risk of being caught by multiplied at such heights. tal clear views that we have the campus safety. privilege to view are multiplied Always worried of being caught and often avoiding hard science class- at such heights. I was able to count the lights es, I don’t need to say that I had never experi- from the ground. There were only five visible. enced the views from the top of the building. The dearth of man-made distraction is almost But its presence always sparked my curiosity. unique to Vermont; it would be incomprehenI was sure that the powerful telescopes and sible in cities and even in the suburbs. uninterrupted views would provide a window (See Observatory, Page 22A)

College observatory offers open viewing MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College observatory, located atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall, will be open to the public for viewing the heavens this summer on the following Wednesday evenings: July 2, 23 and 30, and Aug. 6 and 13, from 9-10:30 p.m. each evening, provided the skies are mostly clear. A highlight for the first few of these evenings, at least, will be the planet Saturn, with its ever-popular rings. Saturn and Mars will be prominent in the western sky, though both will become lost in twilight by mid-August. Also visible through the telescopes will be a number of interesting stars, star clusters and nebulae. There is no set program for the open house nights; the public is invited at any time between 9 and 10:30 p.m. The observatory dome houses a 24-inch, computer-controlled telescope. Additional,

smaller telescopes will also be available on the roof deck for observing the night sky. McCardell Bicentennial Hall is located on the western edge of the college campus. Follow Route 125 west from the Middlebury village center, through the campus. Approximately 0.1 mile past the flashing light at the crest of the hill, turn right at the base of the hill onto Bicentennial Way, which leads to the parking lot. Enter the building and take the elevators to the top (seventh) floor. All the observatory public nights are free and open to the public, but will take place only if the sky is at least mostly clear. If the weather appears uncertain, visitors may call the observatory at 443-2266, after 7 p.m. on the evening of the open house for a status report. More information can also be found at

PATRICK DEMPSEY, A mountain biker and mechanic at Skihaus, says that “access to town trails is fantastic. You can just jump out after work and go for hour and a half rides.” He especially enjoys riding on the Chandler Ridge Trail above Silver Lake.

CARL ROBINSON HELPS to manage the Trail Around Middlebury, known as the TAM, through the Middlebury Area Land Trust, of which he is executive director. He enjoys riding the portions of the TAM that allow bikes. He also enjoys riding roads around Addison County. “Going towards Vergennes you get great rolling hills, and overall it’s pretty safe. Most vehicles are considerate, and traffic is minimal on back roads.”

Independent photos/ Weyland Joyner

TAYLOR BICKFORD RIDES his bike to work at Drop-In Brewing in Middlebury. “I also like taking longer rides, up Route 125 to Crown Point Bridge. It’s a great way to explore the area.”

Summer Guide A Section 2014  

Area news, seasonal features, recreational and cultural destinations and much more!