I was looking at the Sun Now page on the Solar Dynamics Observatory site. Sometimes that page shows wonderful energetic explosions on the solar limb but it may be too cloudy for observing.
Sometimes the solar action can be enticing enough to set up the PST (Personal Solar Telescope) and sketch when the weather permits.
March 30th Easter Saturday was one such day. When I looked through my telescope there was a long twisting filament. Interesting north limb prominences challenged my eye as they altered their shapes over time.
When observing the sun you do not see the movement right in front of your eye. The sun is 149,600,000 km away from Earth and it takes eight minutes for its light to get to us. The observation of movement is perceived over 15 to 20 minutes and can lead to very useful sequences of drawings. In one way it’s like real time natural stop motion animation. Because my solar telescope is small the enormous solar disc (Diameter 1.39 million km) appears to be less than the 40mm diameter of the telescope. The filaments, active regions, sunspots and prominences are very tiny to the eye. A sunspot or prominence can be many times the size of the Earth but only millimetres to the eye. When I draw I look really really closely at the shapes, and textures of these features.
I pay great attention to the negative spaces, the black spaces between the multiple strands of plasma gas that are launched into space by the suns continuous activity.
Before I draw I observed the action for a while before deciding on an approach. It is difficult to draw filaments as they appear to the eye on the solar disc. Filaments can be very dark against the bright sun or very grey almost like stringy cobwebs. Filaments are eruptions of electrified plasma gas; they seem dark as they are cooler than the sun that created them. When a filament continues its action over the edge of the solar disc it is called a prominence. More structural detail within these features can be seen against the blackness of space. When a filament is seen to swing its action from the solar disc around the limb is it known as a filaprom.
For this drawing I used an etching method for the filaments, the combination of etching and drawing seems to give the desired effect for the moment.
Sketch details: Bray Co Wicklow
Easter Saturday North Limb proms and filaments on the solar disc.
Duration of sketching time 13:00 UT - 13:55 UT Telescope: PST 40mm - 8 mm eyepiece using Pastels, on black paper. On the same evening I was lucky to get a glimpse of Comet C 2011 L4 PanSTARRS from Bray
Click here for details Warning: NEVER look directly at the sun through binoculars, a telescope or with your unaided eye
permanent blindness can result from the shortest look. Only ever look at the Sun in a situation supervised by someone who knows what they're doing.
What's Up for April 2013 from Jane Houston Jones
Turn Left at Orion signed for the school library
St Cronans National School Bray had a very special visitor on Wednesday March 20. None other than the Vatican Astronomer Br Guy Consolmagno SJ. Originally I had invited him to drop in and shake hands with St Cronans Stargazers our astronomy club, but he very generously offered to give a talk for the whole school. 500 boys and their teachers were treated to a wonderfully pitched talk about the Vatican Observatory, the pope’s interest in the subject, the wonders of astronomy and all things that give joy in the vast universe in which we live.
The boys asked very intelligent questions, Br Guy gave them a listening ear, his answers inspired and intrigued the entire audience. Br Guy Consolmagno SJ is an American research astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory. He presented Principal Maeve Tierney with a signed copy of his famous book Turn Left at Orion for the school library.
Br Guy was delighted to visit Bray, after lunch in the Martello and a walk on the prom he dipped his hands in the Irish Sea, a rare moment for him in his busy global speaking schedule. I first met Br Guy back in 2005 at the Whirlpool Star Party, at the time I had no clue who he was but we had a warm conversation about binoculars and observing. I was invited to this premier event to give a talk about Enceladus ( one of Saturn’s ice moons) and found out next day that Guy was there to deliver a talk about Turn Left at Orion. We met up again during International Year of Astronomy 2009. Br Guy was on a speaking tour in Ireland. The first of his talks was at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies and Dunsink Observatory, followed by Gonzaga College. We then continued on to COSMOS (Now - Irelands leading Star Party) in Tullamore and then to Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork. If my memory serves me right, Guy delivered six different talks in five days to varying audiences everyone of them a polished gem in communicating the science and wonder of astronomy. More information on the Vatican and Br Guy Consolmagno click here. COSMOS 2013 April 12th - 14th Details hereSlide show from Br Guy Consolmagno's visit to Bray below - School visit images by Bernard Kelleghan
COSMOS 2013 see ye there !
Sketch East limb proms 93,000,000 miles away from Bray Co Wicklow January 12th 2012 10:50 UT - 11:20UT PST 40 / 8mm TVP eyepiece /50 X Pastel and Conte on black paper Seeing good Sketch is 9 inches X 4 inches on A4
Deirdre Kelleghan – Ireland Feb 18th 2013
The objects from my childhood that are still in my learning zone today are black paper and chalk. I was bored as a child in primary school, the only thing I really enjoyed was drawing. Simple drawings with white and coloured chalk in a small black papered book. The drawings were separated by tissue paper with strong indented patterns.
Today drawing complex images of the sun and the moon is one of the most poignant joys of my life. I use black paper and pastels. Pastels are sophisticated chalk and I have a thing about black paper, which is never quite black enough for me. I use my blackest black pastel to make it so. I draw to learn and understand, it is something I have done all my life, to draw is to know.
I am an old fashioned Astronomical Sketcher; it was big before astro photography. My drawings are like photographs and are very accurate. I know this because I can put a photograph of a solar image or lunar image taken at the same time beside my work and my drawing is accurate to a high degree. I take the sun and moon from the sky via my telescopes with my eyes and chalk and put them on black paper. This activity is soul filling and I love it. I teach astronomy through the medium of drawing and artistic activities and am never bored.
Almost Full Moon Lunation 12.75 days Sketch
Get the Moon in your head
‘At conjunction the moon occupies a position between the sun and the earth; it is then illuminated by the sun’s rays on the side which is turned away from the earth. The other hemisphere, which faces the earth, is covered with darkness; hence the moon does not illuminate the surface of the earth at all. Next departing gradually from the sun, the moon comes to be lighted partly upon the side it turns toward us, and its whitish horns, still very thin, illuminate the earth with a faint light. The sun’s illumination of the moon increasing now as the moon approaches first quarter, a reflection of that light to the earth also increases. Soon the splendour on the moon extends to a semicircle, and our nights grow brighter; at length the entire visible face of the moon is irradiated by the suns resplendent rays, and at full moon the whole surface of the earth shines in a flood of moon light. Now the moon, waning, sends us her beams more weakly, and the earth is less strongly lighted; at length the moon returns to conjunction with the sun, and black night covers the earth.’
Extract from Sidereus Nuncius (The Starry Messenger) 1610 by Galileo Galilei translation by Stillman Drake from the book Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo.
Now there ye have it, direct and clear from the master Galileo. Read it slowly, imagine it, and animate it in your mind. Observe it for yourself, spend time with the moon soon you will understand its movements.
Galileo was a great man for sharing the moon through his telescope. He shared with other scientists, princes, students, the pope, and artists. He was compelled to share it as it was such a magnificent sight even in his small telescope. He wrote Starry Messenger to share his drawings and observations of the moon, far and wide.
The way Galileo writes about the moon pulls you in to be part of his exploration. He thereby transports his readers to share his thoughts as he figures out the lunar surface, phases and features of the moon observed over 400 years ago. Today you can still find freshness pouring from his enquiring mind in his descriptive writing.
Sharing the moon with the public is an affliction borne with large smiles by many astronomers all over this planet. It’s amazing that there are so many people today that have never had an up close and personal view of the moon in a telescope. International observe the moon night invites astronomers to show the moon to people on September 22nd. This is a global event, with an increasing bubble of participants.
If you have binoculars or a telescope consider joining in and showing the moon to your neighbours. Register here its easy.
Check the map for other IFAS clubs sharing the moon on the night
The moon is a constant in our existence; our eyes are drawn by it to look up from all over the planet. Galileo made sense of the moon for us, at great risk to his freedom. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin lifted the entire planet by landing on it for the first time back in 1969. On September 22nd you can easily pick out the Sea of Tranquillity with your eyes. Wink at the moon is an action request from Neil Armstrong’s family, to honour his memory. It’s also a really cool simple public outreach exercise.
Weather permitting I will be on the promenade near Bray head with St Cronan’s Stargazers and our telescopes from 19:00 hrs till 20:30 approx September 22nd
What's up for September 2012 from Jane Houston Jones
On holidays in Waterville Co Kerry I had some luck with solar observing during this rainy winter of a summer. July 19th my first view of the solar disc in days presented me with what looked like a loop within a loop C shaped layered prom on the eastern limb. Oh that had to be sketched it looked unusual.
PST 40 @50X 10:15 U T it seemed to come from a slight depression on the limb.
I never got the chance to observe the big Active Region 1520 but suspected this might be a goodbye wave :-) I like to be accurate in drawing solar features so I can compare my drawings to images taken at more or less the same time. This does two things A) Its feedback on the my accuracy and B) I learn from others who imaged the feature in order to further understand what is going on in my observation. On this occasion my sketch was of a Coronal Loop. Magnetic looped prominences like this often occur after a large explosion on the sun, such was the case in my observation that morning. This powerful activity continued for something like twelve hours.
Image of the loop by Dave Tyler included in the slideshow below.
Once again on July 26th I had the happy chance of observing an enormous twisting prom on the NE limb. Never seen anything like it before, it was a veritable cornucopia of plasma gas swirling from the apparent edge of the sun. The rest of the disc had very busy filaments jumping and twisting like ropes .
I am continually working on techniques to sketch filaments, active regions, flares, and proms. The challenge of capturing the sun on paper is in my opinion one of the most difficult gauntlets to satisfy in astronomical drawing.
WOW !! this is huge in the hall
St Pauls Senior Girls National School in Greenhill’s Dublin 12 is just a few minutes’ walk from the house where I grew up. It was fortuitous to have the opportunity to carry out my third Action Sun for a school in this area.
On June 25th 47 young girls from third class, took part in building the sun. This was a very positive group all eager to get going and get busy. Streamers of orange and red paper flew through the air in vast amounts. In a short time the photosphere began to grow in the schools courtyard.
The activity of Action Sun supports the school curriculum in its art as it uses mixed media to create the sun. The program uses paint and paper to convey activity and explosive movement on the solar disc. Action Sun also supports primary school art as it enables children to use the characteristics of the materials to make structures and features on the solar disc. Making the sun in this way is both creative and explorative. Learning a little science through the arts facilitates the use of many kinds of intelligences. The learning process in the making is as valuable as the finished suns. Textures and spatial organisation also comes into the creation of this work. The girls at St Pauls School were very good at working as a group, helping each other out. They also made good decisions during the activity which showed they were an excellent team. This is kinesthetic learning, learning by doing.
Action Sun compliments science in the primary school curriculum on several levels. A short information talk in between making the suns features informs the children about our suns role in the solar system. We talk about the scale of the sun and the Earth. We talk about the energy of the sun and its function in relation to the other planets. The mini talks make sure that the children understand that the sun is our main source of heat and light. By building the sun the children learn by hands on investigation. The children literally explore the physical features of the sun with their hands in mini scale. A quick review of the evaluation sheets shows the quality of the learning. Several children not only drew sketches of the complex sun but also put in arrows to the different features and labelled them all correctly. The action of throwing the paper was very popular, signing their names was also a highlight and for some children carrying the sun into the hall was the stand out moment of the day.
When I look at the sun in my solar telescope I see a huge amount of detail and very often in the past I have shared that view with children. However it takes a long time to show this view to a large group as the sun presents as a small disc with tiny features. It is difficult for children to comprehend the enormous scale of our nearest star. I put Action Sun together to bridge that gap and help more people achieve some understanding of this wonderful star in safety with a big fun element.
The features of the sun itself were totally new to this young group, but at the end of the programme words like photosphere, chromosphere, filaments, prominences and sunspots were all a little more familiar. We closed our eyes at the end of the build and held our faces up to the sun to feel its heat and remind ourselves that it takes eight minutes for its light to get to us here on Earth, a 93 million mile smile. Building the sun took about 90 minutes. The 7.9 X 4.9 meter tarpaulin was pre prepared at home using four litres of matte black masonry paint. During the activity we used approx 3,500 individual pre cut pieces of crepe paper ,15 litres of washable PVA glue, 6 litres of yellow paint , 1 litre of red paint, plus the energy of forty seven eight and nine year old third class girls.
My thanks to Sarah Jayne Reid for setting up Action Sun at St Pauls and to Phil Curran for all her efforts prior to, during and post the build. Thanks to Ms Keating, Ms Daly and Principal Sr Maureen for their support during the activity. NASA Sun Earth Day bookmarks, posters and other educational material were provided to the teachers. The solar feature data for this Action Sun was an observation of the disc made from my PST earlier that morning. The Solar Dynamics Observatory website was pointed out to the girls so they could continue to watch the sun safely.
What's Up for July 2012 from Jane Houston Jones
As I approached the City of Kilkenny medieval towers and spires broke the dull May skyline. Pure yellow rapeseed fields painted sunshine on the landscape. Rich green wheat moved slowly in the cold breeze each side of the motorway.
At Kilkenny Castle on National Drawing Day my Action Sun participants were young families randomly stopping by and taking part for short periods. Small children throwing crepe paper photosphere clumps with smiles on their tiny faces. Just as well for the completion of the project that two boys Max Gronowski aged 12 and Daragh Lynch aged 12 got stuck into it from the start. They helped paint the acrylic / glue base, the root for two of the suns atmospheres. As the solar build progressed my information spiel became simply a three and a half hour conversation with the boys. They asked questions, I answered; we discussed the photosphere as we threw our orange paint dipped paper targeting the empty spaces on this sixteen foot highly textured sun. They asked ‘where did the sun come from’? What will happen to the sun in the future? How big is the sun? They could not wait to fill in the photosphere and move on to apply the chromosphere. We talked about solar telescopes, space telescopes, the dangers of looking at the sun, the Venus Transit, Apollo 11, becoming an astronaut, Mars, going to Mars, Mars Science Laboratory, photosynthesis, energy and light. At that point Action sun had become a constructive dialogue with two very tenacious boys. Some parents came to help for a while and we were joined for the last hour or so by Matthew Shortall aged 9 who helped to make our photosphere denser which on a solar disc of that diameter was a very big task. Daragh said it would be great if we had music to work by, ‘what kind of music?’ I asked, Beethoven was the unexpected reply.
We had dragged the sun through the clouds and reproduced it on the ground. Groups of adults got answers to ‘what’s going on here? Is that the sun? ‘Ha ha I have not seen that for weeks’. ‘Does it really look like that?’ ‘What are the black things?’
Max helped place the sunspots using my drawing made directly from the Solar Dynamics Observatory website at 09:02 IST. We made the filaments, I added the prominences; local papers took photographs of the creation. The sun never showed its face at Kilkenny Castle that day but as each hour went by the sun on Earth was growing brighter every minute as our build continued.
Venus, a black polystyrene ball on the end of a stick, demonstrated the transit as seen from Ireland against the newly created sun. The Earth had escaped from my car earlier and spent the day in the middle of my driveway.
We actually ran out of time, our photosphere big as it became, was just not dense enough and the boys knew it. Our red thinly spaced solar chromospheric paper fluttered in the wind. Sticky hands and paint splattered tee shirts told the story of almost four hours of creative work.
For their wonderful effort I gave the boys NASA Sun Earth Day packs. They helped me give out Venus Transit information to all who passed by. Max, Darragh and Matthew signed their names proudly to the giant canvas as they had done most of the work. The 7.9 X 4.9 meter Action Sun will hang at Dunsink Observatory during Solarfest on June 23rd. The photosphere will be complete by then.
Action Sun first light was with St Cronans Stargazers children’s school club on May 4th 2012. Sixteen boys and I constructed an eight foot solar disc based on my early morning observations. This eager group worked on the sun interspaced by pockets of solar information delivered in short bursts which punctuated the action. Link to blog
Action Sun was funded by Dublin City of Science 2012 and The Butler Gallery Kilkenny Castle , Kilkenny City. Action Sun was a NASA Sun Earth Day event alsoAction Sun – is an indoor or outdoor activity which allows groups of children to participate in building a large solar disc or several solar discs. This Earth built sun mimics the photosphere and chromosphere of the sun, includes sunspots, filaments, and prominences present on the sun ideally in real time. The materials are simple, paper, glue and paint. It is kinaesthetic participatory learning for young children. The activity educates and supports science through art and the creative process.
Slide show of Action Sun at Kilkenny Castle
What's Up for June 2012 from Jane Houston Jones - The Transit of Venus of course :-)
MSL on the Atlas V on the Pad
On the evening pre launch NASA tour we were privileged to stand within 150 yards of the Atlas V with MSL perched on top. Silhouetted against the sun this 191 foot assemblly of scientific ambition stood a little less than half the height of the Apollo Saturn V. At 363 feet The Saturn V was the largest rocket ever built and is more comparable height wise to the familiar stainless street sculpture the Spire of Dublin which is 398 feet. After an unlimited photographic bonanza we left the launch pad to head back toward the Vehicle Assembly Building. On our journey groups of red haired hogs appeared , munching in the evening grass as the sun set on an unforgettable day.
Ahead, an invite to a Marstini party and a visit to an Observatory. The party was in a suburban house were everyone seemed to take it for granted that there was a swimming pool in the patio. The Gale House (named in honour of the landing place for MSL Gale Crater ) was occupied by a large group of Tweeps who had somehow managed to put a very cool party together. It was nice to meet up with other folks who had been in touch with me via Twitter before I left Ireland. @TashaVerse such a good welcome , Jen Scheer @flyingjenny said hi because @commanderbyrne had told her too oh !! what a twangled world the Twitterverse is. :-) @Joi_the_Artist showed me some of her richly coloured drawings while I sipped my Marstini before being introduced to @MarsCuriosity and several others whose @ names have escaped me. After some delicious food, I headed to the BCC Planetarium and Observatory with Jane @jhjones for to join in the public evening. The indoor Moon set up impressed me, I wanted to bring it home to Ireland. In the observatory we looked at Jupiter through a 24 inch scope, while soft spoken astronomers called out the positions of Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. On the roof I looked at Orion rising on its side, the words of Robert Frost’s poem never rang so clear and true. The constellation looked like it had fallen down the sky, or perhaps it was me who had tumbled down the planet. The sideways view caused by the clockwork artistry of the workings of the night sky.
Next morning I was picked up at 6am on the dot by @Stephist and was twittering away by 06:25.
@TheScienceGuy Bill Nye looking very dapper spoke about everything
. The chief administrator of NASA Charles Bolden gave an impassioned talk about MSL being the precursor of future human Mars missions. Lori Garver the deputy administrator of NASA spoke with great excitment. Astronauts Leyland Melvin @Astro_Flow and Doug Wheelock @Astro_Wheels conducted the astronaut only sport of 'let’s have a midair chest crash just because we can' , and William James Adams @iamwill joined them to speak about education . The Black Eyed Pea star has invested millions of his own dollars in educational programs for young people. @Camilla_SDO said hello to me at the mornings Eyes on the Solar System demo. During the launch group photo that cheeky chicken came flying through the air for me to catch so it could preen its feathers bang on centre of the photo front row.
At T minus 30 I hugged the blow up MSL beside the countdown clock and was then asked to give my thoughts to camera by Lou Braga @Photog4NY so I did. It was very surreal to be there beside this iconic digital clock as I had watched it for years on TV following various launches from Apollo to that pending moment. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 the moment was real, the Atlas V with MSL ascended in silence. I looked at it rise and in that muted moment my past present and future merged. The sound followed and engulfed me totally. I watched till the smoke trail dissipated into imperceptible particles before returning to continue tweeting. After spacecraft separation and a huge cheer in the twent, I sat down at my table. 54 years of tears decided to pick that moment to flow. I knew then I was in the right place in my life.
On the plane home as I eased back time to my reality the winder came off in my hand, a timeless moment but for me time had truly stood still when the silent rocket left this planet for Mars.
The Star Splitter a poem by Robert Frost
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My MSL launch video made using my camera for stills and my mobile for sound.
What's Up for December 2011 from Jane Houston Jones
The Astronaut Memorial at KSC
On Thanksgiving Day we returned to Kennedy Space Centre . Jane @jhjones wanted to share with me the memorial wall to fallen space explorers. This magnificent structure of polished granite reflected the blue sky, white cumulus, and the American flag amongst the Astronaut names which were pierced by sun beams of remembrance.
Our morning included a pseudo trip to Mars, the Exploration Space experience, and of course mini Tweetups with pink tagged busy Tweeps including @bphuettner @Conductor222
.Lunch with the enigmatic #labcoatbear in the rocket garden was unmissable, another opportunity to enjoy some Florida rays and good conversation.
Afterwards a long walk on Cocoa Beach was fresh, warm and therapeutic. Somehow I resisted urges to run into the sea which was so inviting. This beach is like a gigantic version of Keel on Achill in Ireland, it included formation flying pelicans adding a Jurassic feel to the wildness.
Flounder with lots of Florida shrimp at the very Hemmingway 'ish Sunset Waterfront Bar & Grill completed our day, we were joined by some of Jane’s colleagues just after the sun bowed out spectacularly on the space coast.
NASATweetup at the Twent Friday November 25th
At the badging office circa very early I met two of the dynamic Stephanie’s @schierholz and @stephist with @doug_ellison . Then I introduced myself to the other foreign nationals including @FailedProtostar for transport to the NASA base. Fully processed and complete with @LockheedMartin souvenir sweatshirt I came to stand within a few yards of the VAB. The Tweetup Twent was huge and accommodated tightly the 150 Tweetup worker bees :-) many of whom were already tweeting away at a rate of knots. Within a short while I had access to KSCCOMM- PRESS Wi -Fi via my encryption key - my Twitterportal to the world was open for business. Trent Perotto @NASA and @NASAJPL gave a welcoming talk and he was followed by Dr Jim Green, and a host of other NASA/ JPL science and engineering glitterati. My Tweeting was too my delight being picked up and RT'ed at home in Ireland , in the UK and USA. A fast lunch before an amazing tour of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the VAB, and my ’ have to see’ moment the Saturn V rocket.
Bus 2 was my ride for the afternoon, our guide was a wonderful passionate young woman Kimberly Goudace. I have to admire the professionalism of all NASA and JPL staff who together made the Tweetup event an unforgettable experience. If any of them had to be at their work at 4am, 5am, 6am they were on duty with a smile and a positive attitude even if they were in unfamiliar time zones. Kimberley did not even have a job; she was a former Space Shuttle engineer who still carried out her work to the n’th degree.
As we walked through the VAB her enthusiasm and knowledge filled the enormous void as she led us to the penultimate surprise, a close up view of Endeavour. This shuttle was being prepared for its museum 'shelf life after space' trip to California. The Saturn V experience for me was joyous and profound, nothing could have prepared me for the encounter and size of this lets go to the Moon vehicle. My first reaction was how will I get this into my camera? Then I made a spontaneous unscripted video ( below) where all my knowledge of the rocket went out the window as years of anticipation poured out forever.
At launch pad 34 we were kindly allowed to walk around and ponder the loss of life at this place. The past’s devastation visible in deconstructed remains of tormented concrete and twisted metal.
The beautiful sunset light yellowed the bareness and touched our souls as crepuscular rays created nature’s memorial to the Apollo 1 astronauts lost to a fire in the challenge of exploring space. LAUNCH COMPLEX 34Friday, 27 January 1967 18:31 Hours
Crepuscular Rays viewed from launch pad 34
My spur of the moment Saturn V encounter video :-) I was 12 again in a second.
A few images below , check them out !!!
A Saturn 1 B rocket on dispay in the Rocket Garden at KSC
Beaded drops of Irish rain rolled of the wing as the Airbus 330 lifted off destination, Orlando International Airport Florida. An unusual blue November 360 sky received the plane as the Sugar Loaf mountain receded below on the horizon. To Bach’s Oboe Concerto (D minor) I watched the wing flex in turbulent air as the journey continued somewhere over the Atlantic. Clumpy clouds echoed lunar landscapes below as I browsed the available in-flight entertainment.
At MCO airport near the Hertz car pick up point I met with my long time friend Jane Houston Jones @jhjones a lovely warm welcome full of joy and smiles. Our hotel was close to Kennedy Space Centre, the heat was most appreciated by me coming from a cold Irish winter. November sunshine instantly set my vitamin D levels on the rise, the Florida sun and my face met at every available moment.
Kennedy Space Centre Day 1 Wednesday 23rd
As I was a foreign national (an alien) I had to get extra official badges from NASA so I could participate in the Tweetup (Friday /Saturday) and have the right to be in very restricted areas at the launch site , accompanied by NASA personal.At the KSC I wandered in the Rocket Garden and yes I was in the zone, walking down the gantry as if I was going to enter the Apollo capsule for real. Visually there was a riot of textures and shapes that took my eye into future paintings celebrating the power of rockets that leave this planet for other worlds. Christmas trees, Christmas carols and Christmas wreaths around NASA logos in the heat seemed surreal as I explored the attractions of all things space.
One of the most engaging was the Hubble 3D IMAX movie narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, oh boy that was fantastic. It included several images of M16 the pillars of creation in 3D which for me was super. I had being drawing it several times for kids at my @ScienceWeek workshops STARSAREUS just before I left Ireland. The movie showed me more detail than I’ve ever seen before, now it’s parked in my head forever. The air conditioning was cold in the theatre I could not wait to get back outside to the bright light and cosy heat.
I met and chatted to several Tweetup people on my walk around , we all had pink badges so we were very visible to each other anywhere we went. Beside a full size model of Curiosity I met a lovely couple, the Lanza’s.They had a daughter who had worked on the Chem Cam on MSL. They were very proud of this fact, we engaged in conversation about the incredible adventure ahead of this robot and how important the science will be for future manned missions to Mars. I took instant delight in the wheels of Curiosity, Opportunity and Sojourner, beautiful engineering, visually stunning space architecture, well displayed at Exploration Space.
Jane kindly got me a ticket to the MSL Guest Briefing at 4:30pm, just before that we met Scott Maxwell i.e. @Marsroverdriver Scott drives the Mars rover Opportunity from planet Earth!!! Off planet driving :-)
At the MSL @MarsCuriosity briefing I was proud to stand for the first time in my life to the singing of the American National Anthem. Excellent NASA speakers outlined the mission, its tasks, goals and mechanisms. Excitement levels climbed as the reality of my visit began to hit home with several days left to the launch.
We enjoyed, no actually enjoyed is too bland a word for the pleasure of eating rock shrimp for dinner that evening at Florida Seafood all washed down with some American beer. Sleep came later to the sound of palm trees blowing in the wind.A few images below from that first day , check them out !!!
A few images from Day 1 Mars Science Laboratory Launch Tweetup buildup