Tag Archives: space

Spontaneous Fire and Falling Stars

Firelight on upturned faces as we watch the stars begin to fall.

Firelight on upturned faces as we watch the stars begin to fall.

Last week I mentioned that I was going on retreat.  I went.  It was wonderful.  The church choir members and I and my husband congregated up in Big Bear.  We brought the dog and our tent.  We had a lot of fun together laughing and eating and exploring and eating and resting and well eating.  Several members mentioned that we were probably most successful at the last 3 letters in retreat.  I suggested that we used all the letters, just in a slightly unconventional way.  We did eat.  And then we did re-eat.  And we capped it off with some tea.  So we covered all the bases.  We came back down the mountain on Saturday sun-kissed, happy and tired.

But I’m writing today to tell you about what happened on Sunday.  After church, my husband and I were enjoying some lunch and talking about what we would do that day.  He mentioned that the Perseid Meteor showers were scheduled to be at their peak that night.  We said what a shame it was that we wouldn’t be able to see them very well in LA.  I quickly pulled out my phone and googled “best places in So Cal to see Perseids”.  #1 on the list was Joshua Tree National Park.  At this point it was nearly 1:00 PM.  But my husband and I looked at each other and both got a devious and adventurous look on our faces.  “Let’s go,” said my hubby.  “Woo Hoo!  It’s an adventure!” I said.

Neither of us had ever been to Joshua Tree.  I quickly found out that it was over 2.5 hours drive and the visitor’s center closed at 5.  There was no ability to make a reservation at a campground at that point.  Luckily we hadn’t really unpacked from Big Bear yet.  We frantically threw things into bags, loaded up the cooler and some warm clothes and the dog and hopped in the car.

This is not typical for us.  Usually I have maps printed and our site reservations confirmed all before we even think about leaving the house.  I have an excel spreadsheet for all our camping gear for God’s sake.  But this time we just went for it.  And it was magical.

My husband and I are both complete space geeks.  Always have been.  We had decided to sleep in the car.  The Element has seats that all fold together to make a bed.  But the meteor shower was SO much more spectacular than I imagined it to be.  The viewing conditions at the park were perfect!  We ended up sleeping on top of a picnic table, bundled under a pile of blankets, holding hands and watching the stars fall from the sky.

It was nearly 3 AM and the park was so quiet.  “There’s one!” He whispered.  “Oooo that’s a good one!” I would reply.  For a while we tried to keep count as to who had seen more.  But as the morning wore on, there were 2 or 3 or even more meteors per minute.  We simply lost count.

Geek love is a little different than what you see in the movies, kids.

You know, there are so many moments that we work so hard to put together.  We scrimp and save and plan.  But this impromptu little trip will probably live on as one of my very favorite memories.  We didn’t have a fancy meal.  A fast food nosh on the way and s’mores around the fire.  But just being together and breathing together, and experiencing wonder together, was so very peaceful and joyful and exciting all at the same time.

Tired, rumpled and happy after staying up all night watching meteors.

Tired, rumpled and happy after staying up all night watching meteors.

What I’m trying to say here is that sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind (at least a little bit), throw some stuff in a bag, hop in the car and go.  You never know what you’ll get.  On the down side, stuff will be sort of a disaster, and you’ve got a funny story to tell  your friends when you get home.  On the up side, stuff is perfect, and you’ve got a beautiful story to tell yourself all the rest of your life.

Here’s hoping you find your magic getaway moment.  Whether it’s trying a new restaurant or moving to another country, I hope your story is wonderful.  And I can’t wait to hear it!

Love (and good night!) from:

The Fat Chick


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Stuff That Weighs More than Me: Mars-bound SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft


Not only is super-rich civilian space traveler Dennis Tito planning a private mission to do a Mars flyby, the mission pilots are gonna do it in a commercial space vehicle that weighs more than me!

Dennis Tito recently hosted a press conference announcing the new privately funded space mission where a man and a woman (probably a married couple) will take a 501 day space mission leaving Earth, circling Mars and flying back home.  (Boy I hope those guys can get space counseling.  501 days with your husband in a little tiny space capsule?  YIKES! Get Deanna Troi on board, STAT!)  The commercial Dragon spacecraft created by SpaceX is relatively small, but it’s no space bike.  The capsule has to be large enough to contain the crew and enough supplies to last 501 days.  (Just how many bags of Doritos would that be I wonder? At the press conference Tito announced that the science geniuses have calculated that the couple will need another roll of toilet paper every 3 days.)

The amazing project is dependent on Tito’s ability to raise the cash.  But Tito seems optimistic.  At the press conference he said, “Let me be clear, I will come out a lot poorer as a result of this mission but my grandchildren will come out a lot richer for the inspiration it will give them.”  Nicely said Dennis.

And, here’s the stats:

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9

Crew: 2

Cargo: Supplies to last 501 days (including 167 roles of toilet paper)

Height: 20 feet

Diameter: 12.1 feet

Dry Mass: 9.260 pounds (without payload)

Conclusion: The Mars-bound modified SpaceX Dragon Capsule will weigh more than me.

P.S. Special thanks to my space buddy Rod Pyle for giving me the heads up on his facebook wall.  :o)


Stuff That Weighs More Than Me: World’s Largest Scale Model of the Solar System

The Ericsson Globe

The Ericsson Globe

Let me start by saying that this is one of the coolest things I have heard of, like EVER!  And I also will have to state for the record that I don’t have a lot of data about the exact weights of the objects here.  Nevertheless, I have great confidence that it weighs more than me.  Let me explain.  The world’s largest model of the solar system is in Sweden.  The sun is represented by the Ericsson Globe.  And we’re not talking about a measly little statue here, no sir!  The Ericsson Globe is currently the largest hemispherical building in the world.  It hosts up to 13,850 guests for hockey games and indoor football, and can hold even more people for musical performances.  Which makes sense, because the sun is you know, BIG.  Oh and by the way, the Ericsson Globe also hosts a funicular railway system known as Skyview.  Just in case you don’t know what a “funicular railway” is, the Skyview consists of two gondolas that hold 16 passengers each that take you up the side of the globe and offers unparallelled views of Stockholm.

The scale model stretches for a distance of 590 miles from the “sun” to “termination shock“.  (Follow the link to learn all about what termination shock is all about.  Trust me, it’s cool!)  The scale model contains 16 other bodies including four inner planets–Mercury, Mars, Venus and the Earth (as well as its moon), four outer planets–Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, four dwarf planets–Pluto, Ixion, Eris and Sedna, two comets–Halley’s and Swift-Tuttle, two asteroids–Saltis and Palomar-Leiden and one near-earth object–Eros.

Here’s the stats:

Sun: (Ericsson Globe) Diameter (the disk) 233 ft. (incl. the corona) 361 ft.

Mercury: Distance from “sun” 1.8 miles. Diameter 9.8 inches.

Venus: Distance from “sun” 3.4 miles.  Diameter 24.4 inches.

Earth (and moon): Distance from “sun” 4.7 miles.  Diameters 25.6  and 7.1 inches

Eros: Distance from “sun” 6.8 miles.  Diameters 2.0 mm x 0.7 mm x 0.7 mm.

Sattis: Distance from “sun” 6.8 miles.  Diameter <1 mm.

Mars: Distance from “sun” 7.2 miles.  Diameter 13.8 inches.

Jupiter: Distance from “sun” 25 miles.  Diameter, 24 feet.

Palomar Leiden: Distance from “sun” 37 miles.  Diameter 0.2 mm.

Saturn: Distance from “sun” 45 miles.  Diameter 20 feet.

Uranus Distance from “sun” 91 miles.  Diameter 8.5 feet.

Halley’s Comet: Distance from “sun” 127 miles.

Neptune: Distance from “sun” 142 miles.  Diameter 8.2 feet.

Pluto (and Charon): Distance from “sun” 186 miles, Diameters 4.7 and 2.4 inches.

Ixion: Distance from “sun” 224 miles.  Diameter 2.6 inches.

Swift-Tuttle Comet: Distance from “sun” 242 miles.

Eris: Distance from “sun” 317 miles.  Diameter 5.1 inches.

Sedna: Distance from “sun” 503 miles.  Diameter 3.9 inches.

Termination Shock: Distance from “sun” 590 miles,  Represented as a large plate.

Combined weight: A whole LOT.

Conclusion: There’s a big, big universe out there, and it weighs more than me.


The Fat Chick

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