Rendezvous with Jupiter

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Tonight was a big night: Simon’s first visit to a real observatory. He had not really been doing any astronomy in the past few months so we were wondering how much of the gigabytes on stars and planets he once stored in his operational memory actually remained there. It took him several minutes to dig out the correct file (on the Galilean moons), but after that initial hesitation when you would think he couldn’t even recall the names of the moons he suddenly blurted out what their sizes were as compared to Mars and Mercury.

This morning he confessed he had always been afraid of planetariums because he’d seen one actually take off into open space in a TV cartoon. Held him tight for most of the initial lecture at the planetarium tonight. The telescopes followed. I believe seeing Jupiter and its four largest moons, as well as our own Moon up close, made a lasting impression on him. We didn’t stay to see the Ring Nebula, it was getting too late.

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