Tag Archives: Astronomy

Sandbox List Adventures: The Sun, The Moon, The Vibe

27 Aug

This was in the hands of the universe …

But before I continue on the wonder of the Cosmos I must apologize … this was supposed to be posted last Wednesday, but for some reason it got locked down in my drafts file. Maybe it was delayed in order to bring something good among all the bad that’s going on in our country. Maybe it was kept there to remind you of the amazing powers of science and how one small cosmic miracle can bring us all together …

I had never seen one, so the fact that  we were in the path of this scientific awesomeness gave me pause. Not everyone around the world got to see it, but we were lucky enough to experience the eclipse and check that off the Sandbox List Adventure.

Now seeing how my kids had school that morning I made an executive decision in the name of science to skip the morning scholastic activities in elementary school and drive down to the university and join grad students, professors, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory  (JPL) scientist for an outdoor learning session. There were solar eclipse sunglasses, telescopes, awesome shadow boxes, and a live stream news feed airing the path of totality in one of the lecture halls. It was an astronomy extravaganza!

I felt since this was a once in a lifetime event for many people, it had to be something our family needed to witness. And the thing is, it would have been fine hanging out in our patio and watching it by ourselves, but being among all those people was an amazing vibe that lasted the entire week. It was so much more being in that environment. It wasn’t something to look at during a commercial break, it ended up being an experience. A Sandbox List Adventure experience. It was excitement! I was excited to be there and when is the last time that you felt excitement over some astronomical event?

I mean if you live in the city a shooting star is awesome, because it’s a rare sight with all the bright lights hampering your star gazing experience. I was happy to be there, and even more so to have my kids see something like this. Us city kids watching a solar eclipse, that called for Pink Floyd music to accompany us on this journey.

All of us outside on the lawn, strangers, just hanging out and experiencing the eclipse brought out the neighborly vibe in everyone.  In the frantic mad dash to get those oh-so-elusive-solar-eclipse glasses, many people weren’t able to get one of the thousand free pairs that JPL handed out. So many people, including ourselves, shared with neighbors so they could get a glimpse.

 

It was a good feeling to be among people and have my kids share the positive energy and camaraderie of spectators coming together to witness something beautiful. And although we didn’t have totality, the 60% that we did experience made for an awesome memory.

The eclipse had the power for just a moment, to remove emotional hangovers, bad conversations, rejection letters, cold symptoms, no parking zones, chaotic mornings, DMV clerks, credit card bills, and empty-gas-tank-lights during congested traffic. It had the power to cause deep breathing and slowing down time. It had the power of gratitude and bringing people together. It had the power of making it on the Sandbox List Adventures.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

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Sanbox List Adventure V: Checking Out the Stars and The Sun, And Carrying More Quarters

1 Feb

I don’t know why kids always want to check them out. They’re never really clean, probably slathered in germs. They’re always out of focus and for some reason they’re really heavy, probably made out of some 1960s submarine or Master Driver parts. I don’t know, but it’s heavy. And for some reason kids always become explorers whenever they see them. They have to see through it. Just have to.

Telescopes.

I’m usually all out of quarters. I never have one. Ever. Or I say that it’s broken. It’s always broken. This is usually followed by disappointment, a sigh, and a shaking of the head.

But today he got his chance. We ventured out to the observatory to check out the moon, stars, planets, galaxies, that weird, cool pendulum thing that still puzzles me even after the very detailed explanation by the tour dude. And telescopes. Many of them. He got a chance to look through as many of them as he wanted, as did his one-year old sister. None of them were broken. And while they were enjoying the wonders of outer space, I found myself enjoying the whole process. I realized … I shouldn’t always be in a rush, I should always carry Purell, and most importantly I should carry more quarters.

 

He was excited that we didn't have to park a mile away. The parking lot is extremely small and for the first time in history I got front-door parking to something. He ran towards the entrance.

He was excited that we didn’t have to park a mile away. The parking lot is extremely small and for the first time in history I got front-door parking to something. He ran towards the entrance.

 

 

Checking out some elements that are found in outer space explosions and other star stuff.

Checking out some elements that are found in outer space explosions and other star stuff.

 

The pendulum thing.

My daughter was mesmerized by the pendulum thing.

 

Once we got to the stars ... everyone was in a wow-state of mind.

Once we got to the stars … everyone was in a wow-state of mind.

 

My daughter thought Saturn was pretty cool.

My daughter thought Saturn was pretty cool.

 

My son thought Mars was cooler. There was a microscope and scientific data involved.

My son thought Mars was cooler. It was so cool that he took his hat off. There was a microscope and scientific data involved.

 

And this ... this was the best part for both of them ... exploring through the scopes.

And this … this was the best part for both of them … exploring through the scopes.

 

And although the best part of the day for my kids were the telescopes and exhibits, my favorite part of the day was watching the sunset with my kids. Our first one together.

And although the best part of the day for my kids were the telescopes and exhibits, my favorite part of the day was watching the sunset with my kids. Our first one together.

 

 

All I Had Was a Canon Powershot, My Eyes, and Some Sunglasses

20 May

It was a pretty awesome event even if I wasn’t a photographer.

I didn’t have a linear polarized filter in my camera, nor did I have a fancy Nikon D90. All I had was a Canon Powershot, my eyes, and some sunglasses. But the experience was still pretty awesome.

The eclipse sky

The sky looked like something out of a Stephen King novel and the trees provided some awesome eerie shadows. As I stood out there in the neighborhood I’d never seen so many people with paper plates and cardboard cutouts. A MacGuyver type family showed up with their pinhole projector and their crazy aluminum foil antenna.

Me … I had no cardboard, no paper plates, no MacGuyver apparatus. Just a beat up blue PowerShot camera and some sunglasses from Target. I’m pretty sure they were 100% UVB or UVA protected. I’m not sure which one is better, but I had some protection.

I would not have needed these sunglasses had I made an appearance at the observatory, but it was packed. All these non-astronomy people were hanging out getting the best view of the eclipse. So there was no parking for over a mile and a half and my kids were getting cranky because they wanted to watch Go Diego Go. Apparently my three-year old had already seen the sun today during our bike ride. I tried explaining an eclipse, but he was still a little too young, so I headed to the neighborhood streets without my paper plates, standing next to the MacGuyver family.

So I stood there for a while trying to enjoy this spectacular event that hasn’t happened in my neck of the woods since 1992, but the MacGuyver family with their play-by-play analysis was killing my Great Outdoors Astronomy experience. I took astronomy in college, I knew what was going on, I didn’t need extra commentary. I just wanted to enjoy this cool experience quietly. No noise pollution needed.

So I walked around the block and saw this chick, with two pieces of paper, and her cat hanging out. She looked like she listened to Cold Play. She smiled. I smiled.

We hung out in comfortable silence checking out the eclipse, the awesome spooky sky, and cool shadows forming on the sidewalks. After a while we talked a little bit about the amazing aspect of it all. We tried to take pictures with our non-professional cameras, but they didn’t really come out too great.

But it was all good, even though we had no evidence, at least we were “ring of fire” eye witnesses.