That, my friends, is the Hubble Telescope. Some interesting things about the Hubble:
*It was launched in 1990.
*After getting it up there they discovered a problem with the mirror and had to send the shuttle full of space guys to do a series of really complicated fixes to make it work properly. Crisis averted.
*It sits in low earth orbit and circles the earth once ever 97 mins.
How do I know this stuff, you ask? I'm taking a class via our local community college's Learning in Retirement. You don't have to actually be retired, just over 50. This class is a DVD lecture series from The Great Courses...this one, specifically. The lecturer, David M. Meyer is a professor at Northwestern and uber smart. I dig smart guys; I married one.
So anyway, I'm of a curious nature and would pretty much take a class about anything except math and professional sporting events, but I have always been curious about the stars and planets (did you know Jupiter is really made out of gas? How does it stay in one big ball? I don't know.)so for $25, why not.
It's a full class, 25 people, and mostly men. There are a few women, but they arrived in a gaggle and appear to be there to be social, which is annoying the men like nobodies business. I arrive a tad late, which in the world of the over 50 set means I was 15 minutes early instead of 30, and there were very few seats left. I took one between two men who pretended I was invisible, which was fine since I generally pretend I'm invisible, too. On the way there I stopped to get a hot chocolate at Megs. I had my pad to take notes, my favorite pen...I was ready to rock.
The moderator gets up, introduces herself and proceeds to tell me that I can't have coffee in this class. Water only. Coffee is too messy to clean up. I explain that it's hot chocolate and I'll be extra careful. "Well", she says (I kid you not), "you don't look like the careful type, but it's ok this one time." How many years do you think she taught school? Too many? I'm bringing hot chocolate again next week just to piss her off. I might even spill a little. After the 15 min break in the middle of class one of the men comes back in with a tall cup of McDonald's coffee and winks at me. I feel vindicated. Moderator glares at me since it is clear I am the leader of this insurrection. Ok by me.
During the two hour period we see three 1/2 hour videos. After the second video I find I'm having trouble staying awake. While interesting, the lecturer is somewhat lacking in enthusiasm. (rocks have more enthusiasm) I look around to see that half the class is nodding off. I got lost somewhere in the Sagittarius star cloud and how you can tell how old stars are by their color and brightness except when you can't. However, I find the fact that I can say "Sagittarius star cloud" and actually know what it is indicates that it couldn't have been all THAT boring. This is what it looks like:
Next week we are going to learn about the Cat's Eye nebula.
I find nebulae particularly interesting so I'm kind of excited about this class. Nebulae are clouds of dust and gas that can be from a dying star, or a new star being born. I love the idea of new stars being born high above us.
On the way out of class the moderator stops and asks me how old I am. I tell her 55. She humphs. I thought she might card me. Hot chocolate next week, totally. Maybe even a large.