Tag Archives: Jupiter

Rooftop Stargazing and Temporal Dominoes

4 Oct

See that dot?

Clearly, I need a telescope. Is anyone watching the Hubble?

It’s tempting to go with Sagan here: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.” (Yes, I have that memorized, mostly inadvertently.) But it’s not here/home/us. It is, according to every internet resource I can find combined with my common sense, Jupiter. It is by far the brightest object in the sky besides the Moon and various airplanes.

You see, my building has some very nice rooftop decks that no one seems to use on weeknights when it’s SoCal-cold outside. So I’ve started going out there most days to get some alone time with the stars and various Neal Stephenson tomes.

There are stars and constellations I think I have identified with some certainty — my problem, besides my lack of telescope, is possessing the sense of direction of a brick. Seriously, you can see a bit of highway near the bottom of that picture. My bedroom window faces it, too. I don’t know what highway it is.

A third and equally serious problem is the city itself. Between the light-pollution and the pollution-pollution, you can see only the brightest of stars on the clearest of nights. So while I think I can see a large percentage of Pegasus, or most of Cassiopeia, or three stars that must be part of Cygnus, they lose some of their status as constellations.

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Juno and Mnemosyne

6 Aug

If I have one talent, it is storing random knowledge and unimportant conversations. If you ever try to repeat a conversation with me, I will get snippy and repeat almost verbatim the conversation we have previously had on the same subject. (I’m working on the snippiness, by the way. Repeating a 60-second discussion isn’t the worst thing in the world. Not like my life’s finite, or anything. … Like I said, working on it.)

As far as superpowers go, this one is pretty lame.  Un-super, even.  It has, however, left me with the knowledge that Juno is the Roman version of Hera, wife of Zeus (whose Roman counterpart is, of course, Jupiter), and that Mnemosyne represented memory in Greek mythology.  Furthermore, Nabokov wanted to name his memoir “Speak, Mnemosyne,” but “Speak, Memory” was thought to be more accessible.  (Which is precisely what I mean by “random and sometimes useless.”  Ask me about every single prayer I memorized in grade school!)

All that being said, I’m kind of a sucker for the romanticism (lowercase “r,” obviously) of our space program.

I love the appeal to memory, the connection to things that exist deep within the consciousness and the language of our civilization, things we barely think about. When I think of Voyager, Viking, Apollo, Atlantis, Discovery, Challenger, Columbia, Endeavour, Mercury, Juno–to be honest, they all sound like gods. I think what’s best about this childlike wonder in naming conventions is its sharp contrast with the sheer practicality necessary for space travel. Continue reading