Thursday, June 21, 2007

Geekfest!

Okay, first I was going to title this post "Nerdfest," because it's nerds who are scientifically-oriented, social misfits and geeks who are circus performers who bite the heads off of live chickens. But after consulting Dictionary.com, I find that, while "geek " does have its basis in circus lore and describes a "peculiar person," nerd can be a "foolish person," but nowhere does it say that a geek is stupid. And so I hope that makes me a geek and not a nerd.

Got that? OK. And YES, I know that language is constantly changing and YES I know that dictionaries can't possibly keep pace with the changing American vernacular. Argotnaut.

Anyway.

A couple days ago I saw an article on Yahoo.com regarding an upcoming celestial event. The International Space Station and the Space Shuttle were going to be visible together in the night sky. The Shuttle had just undocked from the ISS so they were going to be traveling as a close pair across the heavens. (Close meaning about 10 degrees, which for the astronomically challenged reader means roughly the width of a fist held at arm's length). Those who know me are aware that I've been an astronomy geek since about, oh, birth, as the previous sentence suggests. So I couldn't pass up a chance to run out into the back yard and look up like a little kid.

The article was kind enough to contain links to sites designed to help observers find out when the pair would appear in their local skies. This site is the one I used and it's very cool.

So at the appointed hour (10:34 pm), my lovely and equally geeky wife and I went out and watched as the two star-like points of light chased each other, gliding purposefully through the celestial vault, over the tea house and behind the swaying bamboo trees silhouetted against the gently glowing summer night sky. Their journey took just three minutes, and then they winked out above the southern horizon and were gone, off to visit the skies over Mexico, then Latin America, and then the bottom of the world.

Sometimes it's great to be a geek.

5 comments:

argotnaut said...

It was strangely moving, considering that they were just little specks of light.

Tavia Rowan said...

What was that we stood out in the yard (I think it may have been at Cliffside) to see when we were kids? Skylab? I remember Mom saying that they had run out in the yard during her childhood to see a car go by. Then one of us wondered what our kids would run out to see. I guess now we know.

Devon said...

Tavia,

Those were the Perseids meteor shower.

Andrew said...

I am delighted to have siblings with such good memories! I had forgotten about the Persied meteor showers during our visits to Cliffside resort. Both always occurred around the first week of August.

Argotnaut is right in that watching the two specks of light was strangely moving. I think it's because you can see what great things mankind is capable of when we can stop killing each other for stupid, made-up reasons. We're so close to getting things figured out and yet so far away...

Tavia Rowan said...

Devon, it might not have been at Cliffside (when, I agree, the Perseids might have been showing), but I know the difference between a meteor shower and a single celestial event.

Besides, our great-grandparents could have watched the Peseids. It was something else, something "Man" sent up there.

Yeah, people can be pretty cool, when we're not so worried that if we give something away, there won't be enough for us.