Jonathan and I went up to the mine really early. Jonathan
worked on securing the eyepiece. I worked on securing
the small mirror. We worked and worked, fiddled and
fiddled. Detailed stuff, carefully trying various ways
to connect everything together. Made mistakes. The whole
thing is now working.
Everyone else showed up at 1 pm. We couldn’t
believe how fast time was flying and how long it was
taking to put things together sturdily. I had to go
collect pine resin for the candles, so Jonathan worked
on the equatorial mount on his own.
I headed out to collect pine resin. Native American
used resin to waterproof baskets, seal pottery, make
torches, and so on.
When I collected the resin, I ended up in a sticky
mess—even my hair. I must have stood up into a
bunch of resin. I had to wash my hair in olive oil to
get it out. Pine resin is oil soluble, not water soluble.
My hands were a mess. I couldn’t touch a thing
without sticking to it.
The pure resin burned liked a sparkler—pretty
fun, but not ideal for a candle. So, I tried to boil
off the really volatile fractions slowly at low heat.
Pine resins are often made up of over 40 different components.
The ides was to leave the slower burning parts and create
a more stable flame.
It turns out that sagebrush makes a decent wick as
long as it isn’t too thick.
The whole deal with candles is not to burn the wick
or the actual candle. The goal is to melt the candle
(resin in this case) closest to the wick and to have
it vaporize (evaporate slowly). The flame is actually
the burning vapor.
It was quite hard to tell how long to boil the resin.
I made at least 14 candles. Some batches cooled to be
hard as rocks. They didn’t burn very well or very
long. I think the melting point of the resin in these
candles was too high. The resin which I didn’t
boil as long made better candles that burned pretty
well. I was quite impressed that they worked so well.
But I’d liked to have refined them a bit. I’d
like to try to make these again. The crucial point is
not to heat the resin to its flash point—that’s
what is so scary and deadly about fires in pine forests.
Jonathan’s stand is pretty darn good, but the
wind is kicking up so the image we see of the moon is
shaking. It still looked pretty incredible, very bright
and detailed. We could see several craters very clearly.
We looked for a crater we could see straight on—not
one on the edge of the moon, where there would be lots
Archimedes: The next bit for tomorrow is to put a reference
line, literally a hair line, in our eyepiece in order
to measure how long it takes the crater of Archimedes
to pass across the reference line.