Today we in Hawaii were lucky enough to be in a part of the world that was in a prime viewing location to see, wait for it, the Transit of Venus. It feels like it needs dramatic music. A good intro, something. There was something about this event that totally appealed to my inner science geek. Maybe it was the fact that it will not happen again for another 117 years. Think about that, 117 years. When I mentioned to LKY that we would not be alive the next time the Transit of Venus occurred, he told me that he would be because there would be some magic pill and he would still be around. I don’t agree. I think that some of the fascination with this event for me is that I won’t be around the next time this happens. If I were to be alive, I would be 162 years old. I’m not holding out too much hope for that.
So my family met at home a bit early today and headed down to Waikiki where the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy (http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/) had set up tents, displays and telescopes to view Venus slowing moving across the face of the Sun. They were also distributing the little cardboard viewers that allow you to safely look at the sun directly. We had raced to school to pick up the 7 year old early to make sure that we got there in time (I had seen a picture of somewhere where there were really long lines to use telescopes). We were also concerned that the sun wouldn’t be out since it was a bit cloudy over the mountains. I had decided not to change out of my work clothes since I knew that LKY would not be changing either. So there we were down in Waikiki, on a beautiful sunny day, in our ridiculous work clothes surrounded by tourists in bathing suits gleaming with the ocean and sunscreen. We were a bit out of place.
We quickly located where they were giving out free viewers. They also had a guy on a microphone taking questions while standing in front of a big screen showing the transit. We used it to help the 7 year old figure out where he should be looking when he was watching the sun through his viewer. He was very excited. I think that he was very excited because I was very excited. I love that. He told me that he was going to be the only one in his class who was going to see the Transit of Venus.
The folks from the IFA had set up a bank of telescopes at the edge of the beach to allow people to see Venus close up. The 7 year old wanted to look through every telescope they had despite the fact that there was not much difference between them. I was able to take a picture with my phone through one. It was a pretty fantastic event.
Back when I was in college, I thought that I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau. I loved Marine Biology. I loved learning about biology. The problem was that I wasn’t too good at it. I always had issues with numbers, we just don’t get along. I also always loved to write but never considered making it a career (can it be a career these days?) Lately, thinking about my blogging, I was wondering if that whole Marine Biology thing was just a mistake, that maybe I should have focused on writing instead. But after today, after the feelings of excitement for this once in a lifetime scientific event, I realized that it could actually be a tie, the science and the creative bits and I’m OK with that.