Venus

The last few nights we've seen Venus in the early evening, shining brilliantly near the Moon. The boys have been making wishes on it, and contemplating the probability of a wish coming true when the "star" in question is actually a planet.


I was in a college astronomy class at a time when Saturn was particularly visible. My father worked in Los Angeles so he accompanied me one night to the Griffith Observatory when the big telescope was focused on the amazing technicolor rainbow of Saturn's rings. My Dad, upon having his turn peeking through the lens, loudly declared to the large crowd of astronomers and guests that it was fake... it was far too bright and beautiful and cartoon-like to really be real. A horrified docent assured him it was real, and you could tell by the way it wavered in the viewfinder, as pockets of warm air rising in space would momentarily distort it, giving the appearance it was dancing around. I'm sure my father was trying to embarrass me, but the memory still makes me laugh as hard today as I did then, shivering in the cold night air, high above the city of Los Angeles with my Dad.

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