Friday, April 30, 2010

Somewhere, Out There, We are Not Alone

So all day yesterday, I awaited a cool event that was going to happen at 9:12pm last night. The Pittsburgh area was to be able to see the Space Station overhead. As the afternoon wore on, I looked outside and noticed a bank of clouds coming into the Latrobe area. What? Where was THIS forecast. I whispered to myself that the "weatherman" who made the forecast earlier in the morning must have been smoking banana peels. I didn't see a forecast of rain... though I've been known to watch the weather and not really see the weather, if you know what I mean. I get that a lot. "Did you see the weather?" "Yes." "So what's it supposed to do today?" "hmmmm.  I can't remember."

I digress. Last evening, around 8:00pm, I noticed that the bank of clouds was moving to the southeast. I kept looking at the sky and figured that there was a possibility that we may be able to see it!! I sprang into action. I ran upstairs and announced that we were going to drive to Greensburg-Jeannette Regional airport about 8 miles northwest of the house, to see the Space Station. You see, the airport is up on a hill and would have a great vantage point for seeing a big portion of the sky.

As we drove, I kept glancing skyward to make sure the clouds were really dissipating. To my delight, the sky was turning out to be perfect for a spectacular view of the Space Station. While we were standing in the middle of a recently-mowed field, we scoured the heavens looking; my eyes darted in all directions. I just didn't want to miss it. Of course, there were plenty of jets streaking across the sky. Every time I saw a blinking object moving toward us, I said "is that it?" John would just say "no, you'll know it when it arrives."

Then, I spotted a bright light in the southwest sky. There was a thin layer of clouds obscuring the object but it had promise and it was very close to the time the Station was to pass through the area. As it approached us, it became very clear that it was the Space Station. It looked like a big star, moving very quickly across the sky. We watched it disappear to the northeast on its journey through space.

I thought to myself, that was pretty darned cool. I have a huge fascination of space exploration. While most people go through life and don't even have a clue what is out there in space, I hope, someday, they will understand the tremendous benefits we have gained from the progress of these missions. It's a pretty huge accomplishment.

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