Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shoemaker-Levy 9 Made Me Feel A Bit Better About The Whole Thing

Last night, for those of you who happened to miss it, the moon was stolen away and replaced with what I shall call "The Blood Sphere" from this point onward last night.

Which is me trying to be dramatic about a Lunar Eclipse, which is cool enough that it doesn't need me for dramatization. I'll agree with the Chicago Tribune article that the view of the eclipsing moon was fantastic on a clear night in Chicago and that it was interesting to check out (especially considering that we're not having another one for some time), but I'll disagree that the cold didn't deter people. At least, I'll disagree with them if I presume they're writing about me, and why shouldn't they be. Unfortunately, I was sort of still trying to get some work done in the lab, and so could only afford a few brief ventures outside to look at it, but I was glad I got to see what little of the eclipse I got to see. I always seem to miss things like this, or lack the proper equipment to view things like this. There's a photo depicting the entire eclipse taken in three minute intervals by someone just south of Chicago here, which you should check out if you missed it. Or if there were clouds. Or, I guess, if you have no idea what a lunar eclipse looks like. They're not as rare as solar eclipses but damn it, they're still fun. And they demonstrate that the moon is indeed illuminated by the Sun, which you already knew if you're not out burning Bill Nye in effigy.

That actually made me think about when I was just getting interested in science. I owe my interest to a book on astronomy that I checked out of my elementary school library over and over again, and while I've only recently started reading up on it again, I've always held a place in my heart for astronomy. For a while there, it took the form of reading Carl Sagan's books, watching Cosmos and hearing a goofy electronic rendition of Arabesque No. 1 whenever I thought of Venus. But when I was young, reading much more about it and trying to figure out how to find things in the sky, there was always a bit of a dark secret which I have never really shared with many people.

But now I've got a blog with a self-imposed midnight deadline for a post, so I'll come out with it.

I've always been kind of freaked out by Jupiter. It's always kind of scared me.

The stuff of nightmares, ladies and gentlemen.

I don't know why. I think it's because I have never been able to wrap my head around how truly vast the universe is and, by corrolary, how incredibly small we are, and given that Jupiter is the biggest thing around that's not the Sun, I sort of projected my inability to deal with immensity onto the largest planet. The Great Red Spot still makes me a bit nervous, and when I walk outside somewhere on a clear night when I'm miles away from civilization, there's a bit of me that still harbors that ten year old's fear that I'm going to look up and Jupiter's going to be right there ready to screw up my day. It's weird, because I don't have the same thing with any other celestial object. I'm totally fine with the idea that there are some parts of the universe that are so distant that their light will never reach us, but damned if I still don't trust Jupiter.

It doesn't impede my wonder, but yes. It's odd.

If you've got something which makes you nervous but you're not sure why or if you recognize that you channel a greater nervousness into a specific thing, leave it in the comments. Or anything in the comments, really.


Rachel said...

Murphy, Pike just said that the spot made his mother nervous as a child, so you're not alone.

Silent Five said...

This is really stupid, but okay. Do you remember the Dr. Brain computer games from, say, fifth grade? There was this melody-matching deal that had a caveman rock band in it with this cycloptic bass player with a loincloth and his little bass riff that WOULD NOT GODDAMN RESOLVE. I could never pin down why that guy made me nervous, but he did, and he did to such a degree that songs with bass lines that resemble that one make me twitch a little.