|Observatory at Edison College|
Looking at the moon was cool. You could see craters within craters. The professor explained that because there is no gravity on the moon, anything that touches the moon's surface (even a speck of dust) will create a crater. No wonder it looks like Swiss cheese! Viewing Jupiter (which is often mistaken for the North Star because it is so bright--that would be a navigational disaster!) was a bit less exciting. You could see a couple of its moons and sort of make out one of its bands, but it didn't knock my socks off.
The most interesting part of the evening was listening to Jay and Paul talk about astronomy and looking at the sky with Jay's iPad (using the Star Walk app, which was quite cool). The guy who was helping out on the terrace had a laser pointer that he was using to help the spectators visualize the constellations. Using Star Walk, you didn't have to rely on your imagination--the designer has already drawn them in. (I know--it is sort of like being spoon fed, but why not take advantage of emerging technologies?) Paul impressed me by remembering the mnenomic for the planets "Man Very Early Made Jars Stand Up Nearly Perpendicular" (Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Pluto, which I understand recently lost its status as a planet.) I took an astronomy class at U-Mass when I was in college (thinking it would be a gut class--wrong once again!) and remember pretty much nothing other than being cold on the nights we went star gazing and having a mild crush on Nick, the professor.
In general, the evening confirmed that astronomy is not my thing. Jay and I went to an observatory when we were on our honeymoon in Maui and my reaction was more or less the same. Last night, like the night in Maui, I was more focused on when we were going to have dinner than contemplating the universe. Still, it's a fun thing to have access to and yet another interesting thing to do in Punta Gorda. As always, the sky's the limit!