Just a Speck

…That’s how I felt last night-like Horton the Elephant. Remember in Dr. Suess’ Horton Hears a Who, Horton hears this teeny, itty bitty voice from a speck and he struggles to keep that speck safe because he seems to be the only one who realizes that there is an entire community of Whos on that little puffy flower?

We were specks, looking out into the great stretching sky. And all the beyond that was, well, beyond.

Last night, my girls and I went to a local observatory. During the summer months, I’m constantly on patrol for good activities for kids or, better yet, free activities to do with kids. Recently in a newspaper I found a listing for open-to-the-public nights at an observatory a few towns over. Huh…planet watching. Could be good. A few things propelled me to take the girls to this…firstly, it was free 🙂 Secondly, it was science-oriented and science plus girls is a good equation. Thirdly, it was totally out of the box for me, the Mom. I’m no science girl, especially when it comes to things like the planets. Do I ever want to visit Mars if the opportunity arises? Nope. I still haven’t been to New Orleans and I’ll go there first, thank you very much. The food is probably better.

The thing about the planets and space for me is that I just can’t wrap my brain around them in the slightest way. It’s just too big for me. Considering I’m a pretty creative gal, you would think I’d have no problem with this, but I do. Last night, for instance, we saw Saturn. Saturn.We peered into this mighty telescope from inside the observatory, way above the tree line…the computer determined the location of this planet, the telescope rotated, the dome on top of the observatory rotated (waaay cool….like the best clubhouse you’ve ever been in) and there it was….850 million miles away, but clear as a bell through that lens…Saturn. Little rings and all. Even Titan, one of its moons, hanging out beside it. But all us moon and planet watchers giggled because it looked like a wee cartoon, as if someone has slid a teeny drawing of what Saturn “should” look like into the lens. But really….850 million miles away??

Then we viewed Venus, a mere 130 million miles away. Pffft. Fuzzy ball of bright light.

The astronomer on site told us that it took about an hour for that blast of light to reach us. We were looking at Venus how it looked an hour ago.

My brain was bending.

We also saw the Moon’s surface up close (ha) and personal…all those craggy craters, the white-ish grayness of it all. I looked for the little footprint and flag but it must have been on the other side. I could tell that others up in our dome were having the same type of issue with comprehending all of this…asking questions like “How much are we seeing? 100 miles of the moon? Thousands? How much?” Few of us seemed to have a bar from which to work. We were trying to gets our heads around it.

As the sky darkened, more souls showed up to watch the skies. That alone was amusing to me…here’s this little observatory, down a darkish road and folks are actually showing up to see the goings-on above their heads. I wasn’t the only geek out there trying to learn something new.

We’ll be heading back at some point this summer, for sure. After all, there’s always something up there to look at. And why not bend your brain once in a….dare I say it?….blue moon.



2 thoughts on “Just a Speck

  1. Very cool!! I have a telescope but it’s come out of its case maybe 2 – 3 times. Just too much light to get a good view from the yard.

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