Planets and galaxies not visible with the naked eye are being telescopically explored by Pahrump resident Larry Pearson.
Pearson said he is visiting Pahrump elementary and middle schools to introduce students to sky-gazing. He is hopeful that by volunteering his time, equipment and knowledge, that he will help foster a curious nature in students, which in turn can lead to a deeper understanding of the universe through space exploration.
Pearson is passionate about astronomy, the study of stars, planets and other objects in and beyond our skies. His hobby has allowed him to observe the earth’s moon as well as Jupiter and Saturn and their moons. He makes observations with a high-powered motorized Meade 2080 telescope.
Pearson describes the telescope’s magnification capability. “It’s so powerful, you can put yourself right on the moon with it,” he said.
He has also observed nebulas and other galaxies with his telescope. Pearson said that earth is located in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way is just one of many galaxies visible by telescope, he said.
From his backyard, he said, he is able to observe M81 and M82, two spiral galaxies in proximity to the Big Dipper. He explained that these galaxies, similar to the Milky Way, are a group of stars and planets that often have a main star, like the earth’s sun.
He often views the sun’s activity through his telescope and has been able to observe solar flares – eruptions of electromagnetic radiation, or mini-volcanoes of energy. He has observed an “M1” or magnitude level one quake on the sun, which, he said, does not cause damage to earth. However, if an “M6” level quake were to occur, the effects would be felt on earth within 12 days. Solar flares, he explained, present in a similar fashion to a waterfall.
His volunteer data collection and information sharing organization, High Desert Astronomy, shares information with NASA’s Earth Observing System which helps compile data used to understand and predict atmospheric conditions.
Pearson has telescopically observed things over the years that he has been unable to explain. While in Alabama, he and a friend observed an object orbit the earth’s moon three times and then traveled in a northeast direction toward the Birmingham International Airport. Fascinated and curious about the object, the pair called the airport to inquire if it had been picked up on radar. They were told that an object at that distance was not detectable by the airport’s radar.
In the past six months, he said, he witnessed inexplicable “space communication” from his back yard. He observed a red laser light rapid-flash three times into space. The red beam was “answered” by a laser green beam from space. He said the lights came from the same direction in which “Area 51” is located. He said he did not report his observation to the authorities, nor did he make inquiries.
He shrugged at the question, indicating those unexplained observations would likely be scoffed at by authorities. He said he believes that lifeforms exist in other parts of the universe. “We are not alone. Out of all the trillions of planets and never-ending galaxies, there has got to be life elsewhere,” he said.
Pearson provides opportunities for sun and galaxy gazing free of charge. For more information, visit High Desert Astronomy on Facebook.