Brian's Photo Blog — Article 89
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A Detour to the Pine Mountain Observatory
Thursday 26 April 2012   —   Category: Outings

On my trip — from my home in the Willamette Valley to Eastern Oregon — I had already made photo stops at the Hoodoo Ski Area and the Sisters-Bend Area. My third stop was actually more of a detour — up to the Pine Mountain Observatory. Located about 25 miles southwest of Bend, the three telescopes — sitting at 6,250 feet, near the top of the many-peaked mountain — are owned and operated by the University of Oregon Physics Department. The mountain was so big, and I was so close, that I had to take a series of shots to combine as a panoramic photo just to get a picture of the entire mountain!

When I turned off U.S. Route 20 to take the observatory road, there was a sign saying that the road was not maintained during the winter, and that I should proceed at my own risk. There didn’t seem to be too much snow on the mountain, and with my four-wheel-drive Tacoma, I felt that I could at least try to go as far as I could, and just see how things turned out. I’m sure glad I did! Even though the road did have about a foot of snow on it near the top, there were well-worn ruts that allowed me to proceed without too much difficulty — but I was very glad to have my truck! It was definitely worth taking some time and effort to make this detour to the top!

On the way up, I was rewarded with great views of major Cascades peaks, like Mount Jefferson, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Bachelor.

After not too long of a drive, I reached the observatories. The buildings were actually much smaller than I had imagined, but I guess the telescopes themselves are not that large (15, 16 and 32 inches), so the corresponding housing for them does not need to be large either.

Once I had look around a little bit — there was really not much to see — I headed up the hill behind the observatories to see what the view was like. After just a few minutes' hike I was at the top — not the higest point of Pine Mountain, but one of a number of peaks on the mountain that are close to being the highest. I was rewarded with a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. I captured this magnificent scene in a series of 46 photos, which I combined into an ultra-wide panoramic picture. I even made an interactive version, which you can rotate through using your mouse.

After spending about an hour in the area, it was time to continue my journey east. I took over 180 photos from, and of, Pine Mountain. I've narrowed them down to the best 12 photos — well, at lot more than than if you count the 46 photos that ended up as a single picture. Most of the other abandoned photos were other 360-degree panoramic shots that didn’t turn out as good as the one in the Pine Mountain 2012 photo album.
For a complete list of all the blog entries and photo albums resulting from my trip to Eastern Oregon, be sure to check out the April 2012 Eastern Oregon Photo Outing Recap
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 89
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