Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh, just looking at space...

The best thing about space is that, no matter how many stories we try to bracket it with, it's always going to be indifferent to us. Space is always going to be the biggest and the farthest. We're spoiled by fancy digital things and telescopes up in space that make us think that it's close and explainable, but that's really mostly a lie.

The way to the telescope is up a creaky winding wooden staircase. The telescope itself has been there for over 100 years, which is obviously the part I like best--how so many people for so long have looked at that sky. And how some parts of that sky are the same and some are different, and either way whatever is happening inside our eyes happened first in space long before. Through the telescope there was a star, faint and fuzzy and farther away that I can even fathom.

As the sky darkened we went to the parking lot to look through newer telescopes at the moon, bright and clear, so close we could almost touch it. Near the observatory we were given glasses and taught about how to tell an element by its spectrum, and that's when I learned that everything just might be made of rainbows. As though there was any doubt.

(Thanks for the tip, Steve! We would never have known that this was there without you.)

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