Bedding down for the night on Mount Arat, I began to be mesmerized by the bounty of the heavens. Here, atop Turkey’s tallest mountain, there is a total absence of city filters -no city lights, no city smoke, no city obstructions- no earthly distractions to keep one’s eyes from roaming the vast night sky. The evening was so clear that, for the first time in my life, I began to make out the rumored constellation of the Velo Nebula, just to the left of the Skinny Dipper.

At first it looked like a faint haze of light, but the longer I stared, the more this wondrous formation revealed itself. The Velo Nebula contains two major solar systems, side by side. Wedged between these two, large circular patterns are three strings of star belts (much like the Codpiece of Orion), laid out in a triangular fashion. At the bottom of this triangle is situated a far smaller solar system, with opposing planets.

“The Velo Nebula’s crank”, I pointed out to my silent evening partner. My 3-speed companion tonight, aptly named, “The Star of Islam”, and I lay back, squinting into the dark. And then the unbelievable took place before our very eyes. Both of the large solar system’s suns went binary, and the resulting cosmic debris took on the shape of a pair of Campagnolo quick-release levers!

Whoa... Something tells me this journey is going to be an extraordinary one!   See you next month when I pedal into Iran -Global Freddie.

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Criterium Corner with Euro Freddie