Friday, 18 March 2016

Nurturing the Inner Nerd

What sort of facilities do you expect a school to have?  A library? Tick! Science labs? Tick!  Sports fields? Tick!  Art Rooms? Tick! An observatory to gaze at the stars? Hey, hang on a minute!  We didn't have one of those at my school.  I feel cheated.  But Tick! Louis goes to one of the few schools in the country that has one. As such the late great Patrick Moore used to hang out there.  And it just so happens that Chris Lintott who currently presents 'The Sky at Night'. is an old boy. He came to the school last night to give a talk 'Is the Milky Way Special?'  I thought I'd go along.  To temper all the other unfathomable mumbo-jumbo I like a bit of science.

Just as I expected it was fascinating.  After all I can be geeky when the mood takes me.  The evening started and ended with a live shot of Jupiter from the school's telescope projected on a big screen.  Be blowed if I could see any of its 63 moons. But you could see Jupiter's rings.  I didn't even know it had any.  But there you go.  You learn a new thing everyday.  These were only discovered by the Voyager spacecraft in 1979 but you could see them as clear as the light of day.  On a humble school's telescope that is not on one of those incredibly cool 'Extremely Large Telescopes'.  Isn't technology today amazing?

And is the Milky Way special?  Me, I find them a bit insipid and would prefer a yummy Dime bar any day.  Oops, I forgot we're not talking about chocolate.  I'm easily distracted.  Our starry galaxy is special, not only because it is our home but because of its position in the green valley on the galaxy colour-magnitude map.  In this sense  the Milky Way is special because it's rare.  Most galaxies fall within the red and blue zones of the map.

What struck me the most was how much empty space there is in ....space!  Okay, the clue might be in the name.  It yielded the most fascinating fact of the night.  At some time in the future the Milky Way is predicted to bump into Andromeda, our nearest neighbour in galaxy terms.  Yet because distances between celestial bodies  are huge the likelihood that any one of them will crash into another when this event occurs is tiny. Wow!


9 comments:

  1. What a smashing school your little chap goes too.

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    1. He is very lucky. It is a kind compassionate place too. x

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  2. Sorry to be pedantic, but surely " as clear as mud" means that you can't see it? When we visit friends in the depths of Dorset, and walk back from the pub at night, the sky is amazing! We only see a few stars from our urban environment.

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    1. Thank you my lovely proofreader. It is rectified x

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  3. The Hubble pictures are incredible.
    Arilx

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  4. I recently did a free OU course on Orion, it was fascinating.

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    1. When will Betelgeuse blow? That is the question! xx

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  5. I would have loved to have been there. It all boggles my mind. And I may or may not think that Brian Cox is a bit of stuff! LMAO

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    1. Funnily enough Brian Cox is on my 'hot' list too! I used to go on courses with his sister in my old life as a tax consultant. xx

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