Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-2

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Introduction: The Eclipse

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pp. 3-12

Out of the cycles of the cosmos, out of the circling circles of fire and rock and gas and ice, out of the steady turnings of light into darkness into light, somewhere between the spinning atoms and the spinning galaxies, somewhere between the beginning and the end...

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1. The Expanding Mesa

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pp. 13-25

On the rim of the volcano I stood, propelled there by the volcano’s power.
I was standing on the backside of the volcano and looking down a steep thousand feet to its base. On the opposite, front, side of the volcano, its base was about six hundred feet below the rim, for on its...

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2. Tree Rings

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pp. 26-35

I felt the starlight on my face. Star bathing, my face glowed with the power of distant suns. This wasn’t the power of heat, but the power of time.
Gazing out the opening of the observatory dome, I was greeting starlight arriving on Earth after long journeys...

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3. Rooted in the Sun

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pp. 36-53

Ahead of us, where the river curved, the river was cutting into the bank, leaving an earthen cliff seven or eight feet high. The cottonwood trees atop the bank were resisting the river’s power, their tangled roots holding onto the earth, but it was only a matter of time...

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4. Meteor Rites

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pp. 54-61

Walking away from the mesa, walking away from the city, leaving her home forever, she stopped and turned and looked back. The black cliffs, the rim of the mesa, already seemed so small. The large black boulders looked like little rocks. She gazed back and forth over...

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5. Storm Pattern

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pp. 62-109

The bilagaana, the white man, was going to set off his cannon and light up the sky. They watched him aiming and fiddling with the cannon. Yazzie had seen fireworks in July, when his parents took him to Gallup. Yazzie told the other kids that fireworks were how...

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6. Sandpaintings

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pp. 110-128

There were lizard tracks, with a zigzagging line where the tail had dragged and swished. There were mouse tracks and jackrabbit tracks wandering from flower to flower, bush to bush. There were beetle tracks and spider tracks, wandering a bit more randomly than...

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7. Tranquility Base Here

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pp. 129-140

Forty-three years and one day after Neil Armstrong took step by careful step down the ladder of the lunar lander, reached the bottom rung, dropped onto the landing pad, lifted his foot, placed it onto the lunar soil, and announced that this was only one small step for him...

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8. The Blood of the Martians

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pp. 141-155

Built by Alvan Clark and Sons of Boston in the 1890s, the Clark telescope was one of the last great refracting telescopes ever built, as the age of refracting (glass lens) telescopes yielded to the age of reflecting (mirror) telescopes at the start of the twentieth century...

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9. Unidentified Mountainous Objects

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pp. 156-175

I thought I was hiking on solid rock, but then the rock began to dissolve and flow.
My boots told me that the rock was hard, and so did my muscles and sweat and breath. My eyes told me that I was hiking up a mountain. The mountain told me that it had tall cliffs and steep slopes...

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10. Fire and Ice

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pp. 176-198

Some say the world was created in benevolence, some say in chaos.
All I really knew at this moment was that climbing the highest mountain in Arizona was a mixture of both, of hard beauty and hard stress. I sat down to allow my left-behind breath to catch up...

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Sources and Resources

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pp. 199-208

This book has covered a lot of ground in both places and subject matters, and since it is not customary for literary nature writing to include extensive footnotes, readers may have some questions about some of these subjects and want to find books for exploring them...

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Acknowledgments

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p. 209

My first thanks go to Judy LeFevre, a wonderful teacher who has mentored many students, but especially me. I have also appreciated the generous encouragement of Caroline Werkley and Terra Waters.
Literary astronomy essays are not a common form, but some...

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About the Author

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p. 210

Don Lago lives in a cabin in the pine forest outside Flagstaff, Arizona. For twenty-five years he has explored the Grand Canyon, kayaking it six times and doing backcountry research. He is the author of two Grand Canyon history books: Grand Canyon: A History of...