Sunday, September 03, 2006
Sunday Scribblings -- SMART-1
Well. Europe's SMART-1 spacecraft crash-landed into the Moon last night, right at its predicted time of impact. According to David Leonard, Senior Space Writer at Space.com, "a handful of reporters and astronomers using large backyard telescopes...did not see anything." My husband and I, standing in our front yard (in our bathrobes and slippers) with our binoculars, didn't see anything either. But the Moon is truly a beautiful thing seen through binoculars. You can see craters. Shadows. Rings of light. I stayed out a few minutes more and looked at stars and listened to crickets. One of my favorite Summer-Things-To-Do is watching stars and listening to crickets. Simultaneously. I do it every summer. I look forward to it, from June until November. It absolutely blows me away! The extremes of it! Like lounging in a steaming hot tub of water while it is snowing, and drinking an ice-cold glass of Coke. The purity of opposites!
How can I say it? It's looking and knowing that the stars are out there exploding immense fires and gasses thousands of light-years away--and thousands of years ago, their light just now making it to my eyes. And the crickets chirping in the grass. The immense and distant, and the tiny and near, in the same breath. Their reality.
The hotter the night, the faster the crickets chirp. As the weather cools, their chirping gets slower and slower. And finally, it stops, and they are gone. They say you can figure out the temperature by counting the number of a crickets chirps per minute. My brother, with his near-perfect pitch, can tell you, "That one is chirping in A-flat, and that one in C-sharp!"
There's something kind of sad about purposely crashing something into the Moon, leaving a mess there that we won't be back to clean up for another hundred years. Or