Gilman District Barite

Was up visiting a friend near Eagle and he turned me onto a public site near the Gilman District of Colorado to collect quartz and barite. It was a bit chilly showing that fall is on its way; all the peaks had significant snow. I was able to find some yellow barite but the quartz eluded me.

Gilman Colorado as seen from the road across the valley from the north.

Gilman Colorado as seen from the road across the valley from the north.

Gilman Colorado is a now ghost town that got its start during the silver boom of the late 1880s.  It was the town supporting the Eagle Mine, but production stopped in 1984 and the mine is heavily polluted making it a Superfund site.  What is interesting is I was listening to a great book on Rocky Flats on the way up that day, Full Body Burden by Kristin Iverson, which talks about another horribly polluted area of Colorado!  Note that the town and its buildings and mines are on private property.  Where I was there were many sheer cliffs and very steep hills, so caution is required in this general area.

Old wire sticking out of the ground.

Old wire sticking out of the ground.

Visiting museums and rock shops around the state I have seen plenty of pyrite and yellow barite mineral specimens from the Eagle Mine.  I was excited that I was able to find some great finds including larger 25+ pound rocks (which were really fun to carry up the steep hills of the area) and some great individual crystals!

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

 

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

I was looking for pyrite but given I wasn’t near any of the mines or tailings I didn’t find any.  I did find a curious mineral, which reminds me a lot of Satin Spar.  This had some really interesting “worm” like appendages.  It is fairly brittle and I’m currently researching what this could be.

tn_Gilman-3551

The nodules on top of this (?) Satin Spar were really neat

The nodules on top of this (?) Satin Spar were really neat

Not sure what this is, it looked like Satin Spar, a form of selenite gypsum

Not sure what this is, it looked like Satin Spar, a form of selenite gypsum

I also visited several mine dumps above Leadville along 5th street looking for pyrite there, but again didn’t find anything much of interest.  There was snow on the ground here and it was a beautiful day to get out and hike around, and that is what I did!  Anyone that has been to Leadville knows the scenery is absolutely stunning!

2014 Orionids Meteorite Shower

Orionids shooter - this one had a nice tail that lasted for about a second.

Orionids shooter – this one had a nice tail that lasted for about a second.

The morning of October 21st was the peak of the 2014 Orionids Meteorite shower and as always I try to witness these celestial events!  This night was very little moon (none actually) and clear which made for great viewing.  We are viewing dust from Halley’s Comet.

I set the alarm for 1:30am and saw 7 in about 45 minutes.  The shower was not as active as I remember the Orionids being; so I will probably head out tomorrow morning and check out the other side of the peak.  Here are a couple of meteorites I caught on camera.

Orionids Meteoriteaa

Orionids Meteorite – This one had no tail and was bluish to the eye, but was rather large; definitely without the tail it is harder to photograph!

Orionids Meteoriteaa

Orionids Meteorite Interesting color on this smaller one.

Blood Red Moon – October 8, 2014

For the second time this year we have the opportunity to view a full lunar eclipse, the Blood Red moon.  I watched the other 2014 full lunar eclipse as well and it was spectacular.  On the Palmer Divide where I live there was a slight haze due to an upper level thin cloud deck, but you could see the moon throughout the night, for the most part, so it was worth getting up and watching.

I set the alarm for 2:45 and the sky looked mostly clear.  I set up the digital SLR camera on the tripod with a 70-200 mm lens.  As with all nighttime photography, it is a bit of a trick to get the settings correct for the camera.  I focused the camera on the moon when it was still full and un-eclipsed while it was nice and bright using the auto-focus feature.  This is much easier to focus than when it is eclipsed and you have to guess.  Note that all the way out with focus does not mean infinity and will be very out of focus.

Once focused, I turned off the lens auto-focus and image stabilization (which will vibrate the camera making it a little out of focus i.e. fuzzy).  With the moon full it is very bright, I used a f/stop around 7 and 1/100th of a second exposure with an ISO at 200 or 400. Once the moon was eclipsed it was very dim and I needed a lower f/stop (lowest possible for the lens to let the most light in as possible) and I used an 800 ISO and cranked up the exposure to several seconds.  With more expensive faster glass you can get away with less noisy values, hopefully someday I’ll have this option!

I took these first few pictures in the late evening well before the eclipse with a Meade ETX-125 telescope.  I didn’t have the T-adapter to the telescope so I used the normal eye piece connector, which worked but I had to hold the telescope steady; which obviously won’t work in low light situations so I didn’t get any close up shots of the Blood Red Moon during the eclipse with the telescope.  Due to the magnification, I couldn’t get the entire moon in the field of view.

Full Moon rising about 8 hours before the eclipse started

The other side of the Full Moon rising about 8 hours before the eclipse started

Full Moon rising about 8 hours before the eclipse started

Full Moon rising about 8 hours before the eclipse started

I started viewing the moon about 2:45 am and about 3:15 the eclipse started.  I watched until about 5 am when the moon started to set behind the forest canopy.

The hazy cloud deck made viewing by eye difficult, and with the camera I still was able to see the eclipse but the definition was poor.   As the morning progressed, the cloud deck started to evaporate and the moon, for a little while, was more defined.

Moon heading into eclipse

Moon heading into eclipse

Moon nearly fully eclipsed, blood starting to take over

Moon nearly fully eclipsed, blood starting to take over

Blood Red Moon during total eclipse

Blood Red Moon during total eclipse

Blood Red moon coming out of total eclipse

Blood Red moon coming out of total eclipse

Eclipse ending as the moon set behind the forest of trees

Eclipse ending as the moon set behind the forest of trees

Was a wonderful evening and a rare event to see the Blood Red Moon!