Mercury Over Mount Wilson

150-foot Solar Telescope, Mount Wilson Observatory, Mercury, Sun

I’m taking the morning off on Monday. No writing, no correspondence, no work.

Instead, I’ll drive up the Angeles Crest Highway and visit the Mount Wilson Observatory, to watch the transit of Mercury across the sun.

If I could take the whole day (or two, to stop and take pictures), I’d hike up the mountain. But no matter how much time I take, it’s not just slacker time. It’s time to get inspired. It reminds me of the concept of “Artist Dates,” which I first read about in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. An Artist Date is a date with yourself, time you set aside to do something you want to do that has nothing to do with work. I learned many useful things from Ms. Cameron’s book, but Artist Dates are the most valuable to me. After each one, I return to work renewed.

What’s your equivalent? A coffee break? A neighborhood walk? Do you take side trips for yourself?

The Observatory opens at 5:30 AM Monday for the viewing (I’ll be late, guaranteed), which they’ll facilitate with their historic solar telescopes. When I stare at the sun, I want professionals in charge.

#Artist Dates#Astronomy#Mount Wilson Observatory


  1. chris - May 6, 2016 @ 11:46

    To break up my routine, I will ‘work’ out in the yard… maintaining a garden is endless.. there is always something to do.. #1 is weeds!.. this year is the worse w/grass weeds… After doing that, I appreciate whatever drove me out to the yard… 🙂

    • Petrea - May 6, 2016 @ 11:55

      Ha! I’m about to get out there and dig up some sod. But it looks like rain! My fingers are crossed. (Makes it hard to dig.)

  2. William Kendall - May 6, 2016 @ 11:52

    That rates as a very good way to spend time!

    • Petrea - May 6, 2016 @ 11:55

      It sure does. One of my favorites. I bit like time travel.

  3. Bellis - May 6, 2016 @ 12:02

    I saw the transit of Venus recently but may miss brave little Mercury. Here’s hoping for a clear morning at Mt. Wilson, and also in Cambridge, UK. I’m not sure you’ll be doing anything with sod today, apart from getting sodden. I’ve been sent a photo from Caltech by my other half who is there today, and it’s very very wet.

    • Petrea - May 6, 2016 @ 12:11

      It hasn’t been clear here for several days, so we’ll see. I may go up there anyway. It’s nice to be above the clouds.
      As for sodden sod, it’s not raining hard at my place yet. I hope we’ll get what Caltech is getting.
      Check your Twitter, we’ve been chatting about you.

  4. Glow61 - May 6, 2016 @ 17:26

    Oh, that sounds like a wonderful day up there in the trees and with those views.

    I’m inspired to find a mental day of divergence, maybe next week. Not to be confused with a ‘mental’ day of work chaos. I’ll go for a drive to a more rural area through grape vines, stop for lunch and some note making and head home again before rush hour.

    Enjoy the transit.

    • Petrea - May 6, 2016 @ 17:38

      Thank you. Mmm, your day sounds good, too.

  5. Ann Erdman - May 7, 2016 @ 00:51

    Every morning I sit in a rocking chair on my front porch (unless it’s freezing cold or raining), have some tea and toast and center myself for the day. Pondering is important. I’ve never been able to just wake up and go-go-go.

    • Petrea - May 7, 2016 @ 09:33

      That’s a beautiful way to start the day! I do some pondering while I’m cozy under the covers, before I get out of bed.

      • Petrea - May 7, 2016 @ 10:34

        Ann, did you get up and ponder even when you were working full-time?

  6. Ann Erdman - May 7, 2016 @ 13:40

    I did, Petrea. This has been my daily morning routine since I lived in Palm Springs in the ’80s. Different mountain, sitting poolside in those days. So when I moved to Pasadena in 1990, I was so drawn to our mountain, and the front porch became an added bonus.

    • Petrea - May 7, 2016 @ 14:14


  7. Irina - May 10, 2016 @ 09:41

    Julia Cameron happened in my life exactly at right moment (as always with such things), when I suddenly realized I was very interested in painting. She allowed me to try new ground. Now, 7 years later, I still keep my morning pages, they clean my head, focus on the real stuff and give extra pleasure to write in hand, with fountain pen.
    I hope your Zen Monday was very good. Pleas say Hi to Mercury from friend in Russia.

    • Petrea - May 10, 2016 @ 14:11

      I’ll bet Mercury said hi to you already, from way up there.

      Like it did for you, Cameron’s book helped me break through to new ground. Maybe it’s time for me to revisit it.

  8. Nathalie - May 12, 2016 @ 23:24

    I love the concept of artist date.
    Mine is taking a walk not too far around home: now you know what a wonderful house I live in, and there are paths through the vineyards or up the hill everywhere around, so no shortage of places of inspiration.

    PS – did you manage to see Mercury?

    • Petrea - May 13, 2016 @ 11:31

      Ooh, Nathalie, I hadn’t realized that was your house! It is wonderful indeed, just idyllic. I know you get a lot of inspiration from your walks because I’ve seen your photos.
      I did see Mercury! In the telescope’s viewfinder it was a small, black dot on the red sun. The wonder of it made me gasp.

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