Thursday, June 26, 2008

Space, as my father taught me

So Cathy says I should post about my dad and space. All this happened before she was born. It seems impossible that she was not born when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, but, hey, she's just a baby.

John Glenn orbited the earth on my 6th birthday. My family lived on MacDill Air Force Base during that time. I remember our teachers at Tinker Elementary taking us outside to watch the rockets going up. Florida, being a skinny state, was a good spot for watching because we could see the rockets going up even though we were on the west coast.

When Apollo 11 went up, I don't remember watching. I do remember my father making sure that we (me and my sisters and brothers) all stayed up past our bedtimes to watch the moon landing, which, as I remember it, happened about 10 pm our time.

We watched on our little black and white tv, and then my father took us all outside where he had set up a telescope that, I still have no idea where he got the money to buy. He trained that telescope on the moon and made us all look through it.

"There are men walking on that moon right now," he said. "See if you can see them."

Of course, we all thought we could. And he never disabused us of the notion that we had.

My father told me that you could see Orion and then figure out all the constellations following or preceding him. The Pleaides, the seven sisters, who were being followed by Taurus the Bull, who was being followed by Orion the Hunter who was trailed by his faithful dog, Sirius.

To this day, my sisters and I are enthralled with the night sky. I live in Atlanta where the city lights tend to dim the sky. But I have been diligent in making my friends pay attention to the sky. In 2006, the Leonides meteor shower was supposed to be spectacular over Atlanta. I got 20 or so friends to bring blankets to a park near my house to watch the meteor shower. It was 4 am and we had 15 or so people in a park close to downtown Atlanta to watch. One of my friends who lived near the park brought out hot chocolate and coffee, and we laid back on blankets and watched the meteor shower for hours.

When Comet Kohoutek was visible, I took my next door neighbor's kids to the telescope at the Fernbank Science Center because I thought they SHOULD see it.

My sister, Mary, was the commander at Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral. She got to see numerous shuttle launches. For some she got to say, "SCO is go." For launches, there are always people saying, "Such and such is go." For Mary, it was "Secure Coastal Operations (SCO) is go." I think that is so cool.

I love the night sky. I wish everyone loved it like I do.

So this is my answer to Cathy, who said I should write about my dad and why I am the space nut I am.

No comments: