[written yesterday, posted this morning, because Reasons]
Oof. These Wyoming days are lovely, but we don’t see much of them; these Launch Pad days are long, and intensive, and challenging. (Okay, it’s largely Astronomy 101, but nevertheless: when it’s forty years since your last science lesson, full days in lectures and labs are a challenge to the atrophied brain.)
This morning was all electromagnetic radiation (that’s light to you and me), and its uses and abuses in and out of fiction; this afternoon we played with actual light sources in the lab, identifying hydrogen and helium and sodium and mercury by means of spectral analysis. We looked at rainbows and saw science! Then more lecture/discussions (“but why is nobody working on a gravity generator?”) and more great scientific abuses committed by SF (mostly in movies, though, so that’s okay. I don’t care about movies). Also, sex in space. Which is difficult, apparently, except in threesomes or with aids (bondage gear: not just for fetishists any more) – tho’ it has apparently (probably) been done. Not officially, but.
And tonight for the first time we didn’t go to the pub; we went to the roof instead. Two eight-inch telescopes and a sixteen-inch, the small stuff, suitable for amateurs like us. They were great – our moon too large for the field of view; three moons to be seen around Saturn, playing in her rings – but the greatest of toys were the night vision goggles. I was really surprised: I thought they would be just a toy, but uh-unh. Looking at the stars was like looking at a printed star-chart, fabulously clear. And we saw the Andromeda galaxy. That’s two and a half million light years away, the only object we can see from here that’s outside our own galaxy: and there it was, rising above a pine tree. I would want me some night vision goggles (military grade, natch), if I didn’t live in Silicon Valley, where there are no stars.