The search for terrestrial intelligence continues
|Last summer I invited Evan, our 10 year old neighbor, to watch the International Space Station with me. NASA has an app that gives a fairly exact schedule for its orbital passes along with directions for where to look. So we met in the cul-de-sac a little after nine and tracked its brilliant reflection for several minutes. It was a warm clear evening, and we could see an occasional bat against the starlit sky as they swooped and dove in pursuit of flying insects. It was a great opportunity to linger and talk for a little while. An opportunity for the old guy to share some wisdom with the next generation. I pointed out a couple of stars that I know, the red planet Mars, and the brightest object in the night sky, Jupiter. Then Evan proceeded to give me a different sort of astronomy lesson.
With a sly look he asked "So, where's Uranus?"
Thinking quickly, I replied "It's usually parked in my recliner."
Even quicker, Evan grinned and told me "You can't stand up on Uranus because the gravity is too strong. That's why you always have to sit on Uranus."
I did my best to stifle my laughter and asked him “You know about Saturn's rings? Well, there are also rings around Uranus. They’re difficult to see because Uranus is a very dark place."
Evan agreed "Yes, it's really strange. Uranus is slanted by 80 degrees."
I felt so proud of him! It's good to know that some things never change.
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