Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Nov. 2 2008 1:00 PM

Pikes Peak

Last week I found myself on an airplane to Albuquerque... for reasons I'll disclose eventually. From Boulder it's less than an hour's flight, so I spent more time in the car than in the air. In fact, I did my business so quickly in Albuquerque that I turned around and flew home, spending about the same time in the air as I did on the ground there. Weird.

But on the way there, the pilot announced that we could see Pikes Peak from the starboard side. I leaned over to the window, and it took me a moment to find it; first, the Rockies were displayed all around me, and second, we nearly above the mountain so the view was flattened considerably. Still, very cool view:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Then, a few moments later, the perspective changed:


The Rockies are spectacular, and oddly I can't see them well from my house; the foothills (smaller but closer mountains) block them. I actually need to head East, away from the mountains, to see the bigger peaks; perspective drops the foothills faster than the farther but much larger mountains. By the time I'm about 8 km east the taller peaks are easy to see.

I am always astonished to see the mountains; I've lived my whole life close to one coast or another; even in the Appalachian mountains the hills are far older, more eroded, smoother, and lower. Standing at the base of the Boulder Flatirons, with geology spread around you as obvious as the smell of pine and the sight of a magpie, the deep, deep history of the Earth is hard to deny. The Earth is old. Our time here is short.

I have no deep insight into this. I just think it's remarkable.