Ruins, rivers and radio telescopes

I know, the title is a bit confusing and slightly dumb at first sight. But wait! I can explain.

So this week I am again in the .. uh, lovely village of Rheinbach. I am doing early shift which means I am usually out around 15:30 or so. Which means it’s still light outside. The weather was not exactly warm but there was quite a bit of sun so I decided to go on some photo trips. But where should I go ? Well, Google to the rescue, of course.

So first day Google reveals some ancient ruins from the time of .. well, somebody ancient, no doubt. These are the same ruins, I realize, that I often see from the hotel window on top of some distant hill. It turns out it’s a short drive away, to the next village. You can’t drive right up to the ruins themselves, there is a nice rustic parking and then you walk. And walk, and walk. And then walk some more. Because why should you make a path which goes directly to the ruins when you can make the same path go ALL around the damn hill, before going up.

But ok, it was good exercise, the sun was up, blue skies, very nice. It’s kinda late in the afternoon, in a workday, which means not many people are around. Which is perfectly fine with me. So I get up there and the ruins turn out to be just a single ruin. Actually half of a watch tower of sorts. It also turns out this must be  a gathering place of some kind for the local young punks because there are graffiti on the wall. Pity, it looked rather cool.

But I really wanted to make some kind of pictures (I didn’t just climb all the way up there for nothing!) so I take out my tripod and set it up. At which point I notice that the sky is suddenly dark with storm clouds and it stairs raining. Perfect. As the first raindrops were falling, I manage to snap couple of shots. Later, after  deleting most of the crap, I came up with this:

It’s a HDR image, which I decided to make black&white in post processing. It might come as a shock to you, but dead trees, dark rocks and ruin walls don’t have a lot of color under gray skies. To be honest I kinda like the way it looks now.

Since it really started to rain, I just grabbed my stuff and headed down the hill, towards the parking. When I got to the end of the path, the rain stopped, the clouds ran away dubiously quick and all of a sudden it was sunny and nice again. Typical. So on my way back to the car I snapped couple more shots:

The forest looked nice. I wish there would’ve been more green though.

And that was it for that day. Next day I remembered that I wanted since sometime to take some pictures at dusk of the new buildings on the Rhein river in Köln. So I went there and after  some driving around, I found a place on the river side with some nice views. What was not nice was the cold and the wind. I didn’t quite plan for that so in a short while I was frozen like an ice cube. But I still managed to make some pictures. I have not processed all of them, but most look like those:

I eventually just gave up and left. Then next day, a guy from work told me about this really big radio telescope which is supposed to be nearby. Telescope ? Astronomy ? Space ? Science Fiction ? Messages from aliens ? Sign me up! I looked the thing up and it turns out this is one of the biggest radio telescopes in the world. It was actually the biggest one for 29 years, until 2000, when the americans built a slightly bigger one. This thing has a 100m dish and together with the supporting structure, it’s huge. Not much science fiction going on there though, just science. And no aliens.

It was only a 25 minute drive through the contryside and I was there soon enough. The telescope is practically in the middle of nowhere, next to a really tiny village, hidden in between some hills in order to avoid radio interference. The whole thing is really impressive, it completely dwarfs every structure on the ground but only when I saw a tiny human worker at its base I realized the immensity of it. The telescope is remotely controlled and operated from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn. The telescope is almost always in operation and while I was there the main dish changed position couple of times.  When you see that huge structure move in order to receive some more electromagnetic waves from galaxies millions of light years away, it makes you feel small and insignificant:

They even have a webcam overlooking the telescope, with semi realtime images (one every 30 seconds): Telescope Webcam. But all good things come to an end so when it started to get dark, I just took my small and insignificant self and went back to the car.

And I guess that’s it for this week’s interesting things ;-)

4 Responses to “Ruins, rivers and radio telescopes”

  1. Daniel Secrieru says:

    Cool, oare prinde bulgarii? :)

    Din seria telescoape mari: Ma rog, nu asa de mare ca ala radio, dar e optic. Si ceva mai departe de 25 minute.


  2. Stefan says:

    [:ro]Poate bulgarii dintr’un univers paralel ;-)

    Faine si imaginile tale. Da’ cred ca le’am mai vazut pe celalalt site al tau acum ceva vreme. Am mai aruncat un ochi pe acolo din cand in cand :D
    [:en]Maybe the bulgarians from an alternate universe ;-)

    Those images are nice. But I think I saw them before on your other site, I used to look there from time to time :D

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