Examining the difference between gas giants, deep-space gas,
||Chabot Space & Science Center
||June 20, 2009
||June 22, 2009
kim-chee gas and amateur astronomer gas
Seven persons showed up for the
Chabot Space & Science Center
field trip held Saturday evening, June 20 on the eve of the longest day of the year.
Why schedule a night field trip on the longest day of the year? You
ask. Well, the last time I was at a Chabot weekend star party I nearly
froze my asteroids off! Unfortunately, our collective asteroids were
pretty chilly this last Saturday, too. Saturday happened to be an
unseasonably cold last day of spring (as well as very humid). Well, so
much for dwelling upon the things that went wrong.
Much went right, however, because more than one person remarked that
they had a good time and found the limited telescope viewing
opportunities to be fascinating. (The unseasonable high humidity almost
shut them all down.) I was particularly mesmerized by the two glimpses
of the planet Saturn I saw through two telescopes. Our view of Saturn
with the rings nearly end-on will not be repeated for another 15 years.
It made for a very surreal view of the second largest gas giant planet
in our solar system.
We also saw Arcturus, a star some 37 light years away through the
observatory's large refracting telescope. (According to the astronomer
docent, light from the early Shag-carpet Epoch of the 1970s was
reaching us.) The star was visible while it was still light outside,
proving that stars are visible during the daytime they just aren't
As the dusk faded into night and the temperatures plummeted, we took
looks through some of the volunteer astronomers' scopes that were set
up on the little plaza near the three observatory domes. Along with the
free view comes the accompanying commentary of the telescope operator
(and some of it can be pretty dry, long-winded and tangental). This
time we were drilled through with some anti-National Star Registry
rhetoric. (NSR you know, those guys that give your loved ones' names to
a star-or dustspeck on their star chart.) Of course scientists don't
search for the names of your beloved "Grandma Phyllis Upsom-Moore" or
your dear uncle, "Waldemere Putzschtick" when they look for stars to
research. They use designations such as, Orion object T-364. Neither do
they care that you gave $19.95 to the NSR for the sentimental act of
having some charlatan give a light point in the sky a name. They would
rather you send your $20-dollar donation to their particular research
institution instead of wasting it on a certificate not worth the price
of the paper it is copied upon. There! End of lecture! I did it in about
a half hour less time than the fellow with the Newtonian refractor
telescope sitting in the lawn chair.
You gotta be careful at these kind of events, because these amateur
astronomers can be pretty boring almost as bad as model train
afficionados (especially the ones in the engineers caps) and
considerably worse than those who talk about camera accessories!
(Sorry, but, sadly, it is true.) But look on the bright side fellow
camera club members, we are considerably less boring than the bird
watchers! If what I just revealed makes you angry, then just ask your
non-member spouse before you come down here brandishing a 36-inch
railroad wrench to crack my noggen.
This lack-of-interest qotient is exactly what I was fighting when
myself and a few loyal comrades established the Foodies contingent of
our club. The foodies are using the power of the calory to battle the
burden of boredom. Face it, you re much more interesting when you are
chatting over a table-load of pasta, or prime rib, or chow mein than
you are standing on the side of a beautiful lake vista talking endlessly
about lenses and pixels and resolving power, etc.
while the sun slides westward. (As uncle Putzschtick would say: "You
gonna shoot or you gonna talk?") Our contention is that if you re
going to be wasting time, operating your mouth you should be indoors,
putting something in it rather than outdoors leaking the vital air you need to fill your lungs!
Don't take my word for it, Granma Phyllis will also tell you to "Eat, dearie!
You don't want to blow away!".
Our foodies this last Saturday did some serious work toward that common goal.
We efficiently dispatched a table of delectible Korean delights prior
to our arrival at Chabot. Let me tell you, we were shoveling the
kim-chee like a Chicago bucket brigade during the Great Fire! The food
at the Sister House was very good and this little "Mom & Pop"
restaurant is well worth the drive to Hayward. If your taste buds
aren't exactly tuned to Korean flavors, then just down the street near
the 238 interchange is Banchero's Italian Restaurant-a holdover from
the old school Italian restaurant of the 1950s and 1960s. It is
industrial-strength Italian (like our very own Original Joes in San
Jose). I ate there in the 1970s (probably about the same time that the
light from the star was passing out of the Antares system) and found it
to be a near-religious experience. I hope to mobilize the Foodies and make
an assult on the place in the not-too-distant future.
(With apologies to model train afficionados, bird watchers,
camera club members and some astronomers.)
Thanks for listening to my rant!
Live long and prosper!
© 2009 S.R. Hinrichs