Come play in my world for awhile!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Making a mountain out of a mole hill

"Look up at the sky Monday night to see a bright cosmic frown. The planets Jupiter and Venus will briefly align to form (nearly upside down) two eyes and a frowning mouth in the southwest.

In what's called a planetary conjunction, the two planets —the brightest in the night sky — will appear extremely close, separated by only the width of a finger held at arm's length. They won't be this close together and well-placed for evening viewing again until May 2013.
In fact, some astronomers think a similar alignment of the planets on June 17 in the year 2 BC is behind biblical accounts of the Star of Bethlehem present during Christ's birth. The bright planets would have appeared so close together they could have been taken as a single shining star.... Source

I read about this event on Sunday and it really piqued my interest; so much so that I mentioned it to the kids. We talked about it at length. We imagined how it might look. We made a mental note to go outside around 5:30 so that we could be certain to see it. I want them to be excited about these things because, frankly, they are fascinating.

Yesterday as we drove home from gymnastics at around 5:10 we could see the moon out the window, and I started excitedly refreshing the kids' memory and pointing out the planets and the upside down frown. I enthusiastically called home to alert the herd (we still have 7 visitors from Thanksgiving -- don't worry it's a good thing!) to the exciting news.

I had four kids in the car with me and we excitedly pulled into a clearing to observe the events unfold. I had done a fantastic job of building up enthusiasm for this unique event, and they tumbled happily out of the car and into the frigid early evening air. They looked at me with expectant faces, and a question in their eyes, "Now what?"

Somewhere along the drive home while I was generating all of this excitement I neglected to mention that the planets weren't going to do anything. The fact that they were there -- in that position -- was the object of my intrigue. I measured the distance between Jupiter and Venus with my finger hoping that maybe their position would shift. Hoping that I could show them something that would justify the build-up.

I could really have used a couple flashing stars or multi-colored comets at this point. We watched for about a minute because everyone was freezing (we came from gymnastics, and no one was dressed appropriately for the weather -- I'm beginning to see a trend here in this blog), and then piled back into the car. The kids indulged me and sat with the heater blasting, singing along to the Miley Cyrus CD while I gazed at the stars. I have to give them credit for being good sports. As we finished the drive home Hannah said, with as much feigned enthusiasm as an eight-year-old can muster, "Thanks for stopping to show us that, Mom. It was really amazing."

I guess the manners coaching that we constantly cram down their throats might be starting to stick (you thank someone when they've tried to do something nice for you even if you didn't like or enjoy it -- it's the thought that counts). Imparting a love for astronomy might need a little more time.


Anonymous said...

Well, I think it is cool, even if the little ones didn't! Plus, they probably got more out of it than they are letting on. Right? Right??

What an awesome pic!

andrea said...

hey... keep me posted on your daughter. i'm interested to know how things work out for you!

:) said...

Someday they'll appreciate what you've exposed them to. Until then keep on shovin' it down their throats!