A Day With Kids and the Stars

A picture I took from Mt. Lemmon a few months ago
Sunset at Tucson, and at Altitude (smile)

I spent most of the day at a local K-8 school, helping members of the astronomy club I now find myself a part of teach six classes of 7th graders how to view the night skies. We talked with the kids about five constellations in the northern hemisphere, and we talked about planispheres and how to use them. We told stories about the constellations—Orion and Scorpius locked together, a bit of a watered down discussion of Cassiopeia and her punishment. A very little about Cygnus (which now I can’t help having Orphan Black withdrawal shakes over when I think about that myth). We pointed out a few major stars, and discussed Messier Objects. Even talked about how astrological signs got their start.

It was much fun.

The Astronomy community here in Tucson is amazing. It’s one of the coolest benefits of being in the area. The city and surrounding area has world class scientists working at world class facilities. Our club’s latest field trip went to Safford to visit the Large Binocular Telescope, for example. And the skies here are so clear and so dark relative to Indiana, where humidity is high, altitude is low, and city lights are often very bright, that it still is astounding to me to look up at the night sky and see the Milky Way so strongly.

To say this is a great place to be a science fiction writer is a true understatement.

While I like being with kids and seeing them absorb things like this, I have to say that the best thing about this kind of event for me is merely spending a few hours thinking about where we are in the universe. How small we are. How little we know.

Sometimes it helps just to take a deep breath and let it out again, you know?

Just be cool with the universe.

Just let it flow.

Of course, when I came home I then spent the next three hours trying to cram 8 hours of work into the last part of the day, so maybe I suck at this, too. I’ll let you guys make the call on that one. I’m easy today.

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