Time slips by

Time does slip by. Sometimes as fast as those clouds wizzing across the Yorkshire sky.

As a kid one of the things I wanted to be was an Astronomer. I remember the look on the career advisors face when I would mention that. It was definitely a ‘that ain’t happening so stop being silly’ kinda look. Actually the career advisor only ever had a few options to suggest. Work in the local steel works, work in the local chemical plant, work in a factory, work in a shop, join the army or the truly gifted might even pushed towards a job in the local bank branch.

Ok no Astronomy job did turn up. But I did eventually buy myself a small telescope. But the Yorkshire clouds, sleep and then parenting restricted the times it was used.

The telescope is still with me. Battered and a bit out of focus. Now is that describing the scope or its user….. If I’m not using the scope much so there is no point buying a better one. But I did set myself a goal of using it a bit more over the winter months. When the skies get darker for longer. The best time to gaze up.

Time slips by….

That telescope has not been out all winter. I thought about it a few times but there was always an excuse. There was always a tomorrow. Now winter has gone.

Time slips by….

International Day

Sometimes the soul needs those familiar things. Those things which are uniquely special to you. Things which have been with you through thick and thin. Things which will grow old with you. Things which have become a part of you.

Last night I just needed some of that.

I picked out two books. One from each of my two favourite authors. Randomly opened the books somewhere in the middle – and read.

The first author was Carl Sagan. A brilliant mind, a free thinker, a modern day philosopher and someone who understood the true potential the human race has to offer. He could bring science to life. I would listen to his wonderful, poetic voice and he made me hopeful for the future. He made me dream big.

He is greatly missed.

Yesterday (9th November) was his birthday. Now the 9th November is the annual celebrate Carl Sagan day. I know I’m late but we can always bend the fabric of time just a little.

So while I read a few pages of his novel Contact and watch an episode of Cosmos, I will leave you with a few of his quotes.

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is only bearable through love.”

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality, it is a profound source of spirituality”

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

“It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English – up to fifty words used in correct context – no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.”

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.”

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”

So Carl was the first author can you guess the second. I will celebrate the other wonderful author in another post. As a clue his International Day is the 8th April.

Closer to the action

It’s been a hot day for Yorkshire. Not as hot as many places, but still hot for us.

Time to do some gardening. For the observant amongst you

  • Yes that conservatory has been taken over by Dinosaurs. I blame them for the mess,
  • Yes that ghostly and out of focus apparition in a red T-shirt is me. That’s the closest your going to get to a photo….. That’s how us with ‘faces made for radio’ like to do things….

An hours weeding. Lots of weeds pulled up and yet seemingly so little progress. But at least I’ve made a start.

Hoping for another clear night. A night of shooting star spotting. The Perseid Meteor Shower is currently ongoing. Last night at 1am we were outside. Sheet lightening frequently flashing across the sky. We always have a little game – who can spot the most… It was close last night.

Hawklad – 50 meteors

Dad – 4

Dad what are you doing?”

I’m lying on the ground, why don’t you join me…

Certainly not AND why?”

I’m thinking that if I’m lying down then I’m comfortable. Don’t have to strain my neck. I get to lie down and scan the sky. I think it’s the best way to see meteors.

*******Not the first time I’ve tried this approach – it worked well but one important safety point. Don’t put your cup of hot drink on the ground next to you. That last time my cup was visited by a slug. That’s not what I want in the dark when I’m taking a swig of warming brew********

“Really Dad. I have a problem with your technique?”

Go on then Hawklad what possible problem can you find with lying on the back while meteor hunting.

Well Dad. I’m standing up. So that takes me at least 5 feet closer to the sky action. Maybe that’s why I’m at 40 meteors and you are at TWO….”

Ok point taken.

Clouds permitting I’m hoping for a huge comeback.

Break

A little bit of a break between the rain clouds. Apparently the sun has been replaced by the moon.

I was looking at the view and getting some much needed fresh air when a thought crossed my mind. A strange thought began to rattle around in my brain. I love astronomy. As a kid I so wanted to be an astronomer. As most kids wanted to be the new Pele or Bobby Moore, I wanted to be just like the TV astronomer, Patrick Moore. Alas that dream never happened. I never got that job as a stargazer. But the love never stopped. I can still here the words of Carl Sagan inspiring me to get my dads old binoculars out and look to the heavens. Over the years the dream changed to just have my own small observatory with a biggish telescope. I did buy a scope eventually, but it was small and second hand. Not much more than a toy one, but it’s better than nothing. It will tide me over until one day……

Anyway back to my strange thought. I had never tried to look at the moon in detail during the day. So I ran inside to find my little telescope. Yes it’s still going mainly thanks to generous amounts of glue and heaps of gaffer tape. Gently I carried it outside to find the sky was completely cloud covered and it was raining. Oh Pants.

Maybe another day. Maybe tomorrow. You never know what this crazy world will throw up. That is so true of school….

There is a subject that whatever Son has tried to do, he can never seem to get any credit. This year he must be about the only pupil in the class without a house point in that subject. It’s slowly ground him down to the point that he hates the subject. Can’t wait to drop it. Putting aside the decision about homeschooling for a few weeks, he was asked by school which two subjects he would be dropping for next year. With the speed of Usain Bolt, this subject was almost instantaneously dropped. Then a very strange thing happened. Within hours an email from school was received. His dreaded subject had awarded him two house points, a really positive comment about his last test and a really high work assessment. Couldn’t make it up could you.

It’s a crazy world. Now I’m going to get back to dreaming about having an infeasibly big telescope in our small garden.