I can actually calculate that for you when we get home, if you want.

Caltech’s Palomar observatory. Main item here is the 200 inch Hale telescope.

My husband and I returned home a few hours ago from a lovely trip to Mt. Palomar. We enjoyed quiet time together, watched and listened to lots of birds that don’t really live down in our neighborhood, and glimpsed, oh, several dozen stars that we couldn’t spot down here in San Diego. It was marvelous. The tree pollen was marvelous too, and that’s why we’re home a couple of days earlier than we’d planned–but it’s alright, because we were running low on food anyway, to be perfectly honest.

I wish I had more poetic words to tell how wonderful it was to see such a dark sky. What is really interesting is that what we call a “dark sky” is quite the opposite; a dark sky is actually full of lights and glowing patches, and even colors. Of course what we really mean is “dark place from which to observe the sky,” but I realize this is a silly line of thought I’m following. Anywho, we only had with us our eyes and a good set of binoculars, and still sky was amazing. In fact, even with a waxing gibbous moon like a giant, white spotlight shining from the sky, K. and I were both excited by how many objects we could see. Reading about astronomy and looking for what I can see from the city is one thing, but really seeing more in the sky than ever before, I just… maybe we’d all be a bit more religious or spiritual, or at least more inquiring, if more of us grew up in places where more stars were visible. It’s wonderful to open one’s eyes to the universe beyond our planet, sun, and moon.

There was a horse and a cat on the property where K. and I stayed. There were wild turkeys, deer, and all sorts of other woodland animals. The best part was, of course, time together away from civilization. On the way home, we got to talking about guard rails on roads. After a bit of discussion, K. wondered how far a car would fly off a cliff if it were driving 70 mph, and I said I could calculate it when we got home. Of course he wasn’t that serious about it, but it was just interesting because really it was the first time since my Introduction to Mechanics class that I ever wanted to use physics to answer a question in my life. Physics is pretty awesome…

But at the same time, I’m glad I’m going to be doing chemistry at UCSD. There’s just something about not having everyone assume you want to be an engineer. Of course, now I suppose half of my professors will talk to me as if I’m working on a medical school application. Doesn’t anyone just want to be a physicist or chemist or discoverer-of-things just because, and not in order to fulfill some financial, technical, or other objective? That said, I should go do math a bit before I return to sloth status with my dear better half.

P.S. I bought one of these at the Palomar Observatory gift shop:

Curiosity rover.

I know I didn’t talk about it specifically, but the observatory was amazing. I’d still like to make it to Mt. Wilson some time…

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