Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twenty years ago twenty years ago

I remember what I was doing twenty years ago. The year was 1989, and I was getting ready to visit the University of Delaware for the first time.

Delaware wasn't my first choice for grad school. That was Bryn Mawr, a small Liberal Arts university with a small Physics program focused specifically on Non-Linear Dynamics, the field of study I wanted to specialize in. But Bryn Mawr's graduate program collapsed that year, as I found out just days before I was to visit that campus. So I had to go with my second choice.

The plan of the visit was pretty simple: go down, get the lay of the land, meet some of my professors, arrange to rent an apartment. Not too much preparation involved, but I remember being nervous before I went down. And I remember what was on television then: special programming commemorating the first landing on the Moon, twenty years earlier.

Twenty years! It seemed like forever. I was only twenty-one at the time, so twenty years was most of my life. How shameful, that after all that effort, all those risks, all those sacrifices, so many years had passed since humanity last set foot on the Moon. How many more years would pass before we went back?

The answer is: a lot.

Twenty more years have passed since then, and now we are looking back on events that took place forty years ago. I can tell you that the last twenty years have passed like a shot, despite being packed with events that would take nearly that long to recount. But forty years - I mean, I've only been alive for forty-one years, so that's practically my entire life. Forty years is, like, forever!

So how many more years will pass before we go back?

Website recommendation:, replaying the events of forty years ago in real time!


Rain Man said...

I have a question for you about telescopes. I am considering buying an Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope. I would be a complete novice to astronomy and from the research of done so far, it seems like this would be the kind of telescope I would be happy with. I would like to ask you though do you have a telescope of your own, and do you have issues with light pollution? I know you live around Naticoke, and I live in Scranton, but I assume the light pollution in both areas would be comparable. I guess what I'm asking is, is it worth it to invest in a scope in this area and also do you know if light pollution filters work?

Kayak Dude said...

Your are still a young pup!


D.B. Echo said...

Rain Man, a Dobsonian is definitely an excellent choice. Even in our light-polluted skies you can still get excellent views of the Moon, planets, and major objects like the Andromeda Galaxy and the Orion Nebula. Light-pollution filters are available to screen out light emitted by sdium vapor lights, mercury vapor lights, and so on. I've never used them, so I can't comment on their effectiveness.

And, strange and sad as it is...most of my astronomical viewing is naked-eye or done with binoculars. I have a beautiful Schmidt-Cassegrain that a friend bought me several years ago as a gift that has yet to see first light. I hope to change that soon!

Rain Man said...

Thank you for your input D.B.

supertiff said...

they were talking about this on NPR just now, when i was on my way home from work...i think they said 2020?

MaryRuth said...

I've been listening to "We Choose the Moon" non-stop since it began. What an awesome site. I was 12 when this happened so I do remember watching the actual events, but only bits and pieces come in clear, so I'm happy to have this memory-booster. Plus, I understand more of it now. My dad is a real space-geek so the whole US Space program was a big deal in my house when I was growing up.