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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

E-mail Cheryl Bac

About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Enjoying the night sky

Uploaded: Jul 16, 2020
When I heard about the Neowise comet earlier this week, it brought back memories from summer in up north Wisconsin. I remember going down to the lake in the middle of the night with my grandfather. He had set up a telescope at the end of his pier. I don’t remember what he showed me through the telescope, but I was awestruck by the spectacular sky. The stars in the Northwoods rarely disappoint, but that night was truly sensational.

This week I showed our kids some of the amazing images of the Neowise comet. I don’t think we’ll be able to see it well, if at all, from our home, so we decided to focus our stargazing on Jupiter, Saturn and the Big Dipper.

Our kids really enjoyed checking out the night sky right from the comfort of our home. We didn’t need any special equipment and we didn’t need to wake up in the middle of the night. However, they had such a great time that they asked me to wake them up at 4:30 to see Mars and Venus. Sadly I think it will be too cloudy for that adventure.

I don’t know much about astronomy, but I found out about stellarium-web.org and it has been extremely helpful. We’ve all greatly enjoyed the positive distraction from the coronavirus. And while I hope to one day take our kids to a quiet lake to appreciate the night sky in its full glory, it’s nice to be reminded that we can still see many wonderful planets and stars while we are stuck at home.
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Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Spacey, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 4:22 pm

I too am disappointed that we likely won't be able to see the comet. However, be sure to look nightly for the international space station, the last two nights it's been amazing, “flying" almost directly over our house and traceable for about 6 minutes! There's a site that lists the day/time by city. It's fun to watch and something easily done with neighbors while still social distancing!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 5:06 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Spacey- Great idea! Thanks for commenting and thanks for the tip. We’ll check it out.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jonathan Brown, a resident of another community,
on Jul 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Awesome, Cheryl! Great story, thank you for sharing.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Lee Thé, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jul 19, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Lee Thé is a registered user.

We saw the comet Friday night from Embarcardero road just past the airport. We parked this side of the gate that closes at night and walked up the road about a block. The comet wasn't bright due to the marine layer/haze but we did see it, and a big plus was that we also saw the International Space Station cross over the comet at about 9:22pm. Cheryl's comment about the Stellarium.com app was great. I didn't know such a terrific app existed.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 19, 2020 at 10:49 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Lee - How fun! So glad you were able to see the comet and the International Space Station together. What a treat!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by DebbieMytels, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:43 am

DebbieMytels is a registered user.

My husband and I also went out to the PA Baylands and parked just short of the barrier as Lee Thé suggested. Awe walked out past the duck pond and away from all the lights. -- about 10 pm. It was a little hazy when we did it earlier this week, but I THINK I saw the comet through my binoculars. I'm planning to go out again.

Thanks, Cheryl, for the link to the Stellarium.com site.

Years ago, back in 1986 when Halley's Comet was "in town," I went with my then teenaged son up to the top of Mt Hamilton since an astronomy club has set up a bevy of big telescopes and they invited the public. It was a two hour drive up there -- and another two hours back -- and the fog also interferred to some extent -- but we saw a number of the planets and Saturn's rings... it was an experience to remember.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by DebbieMytels, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:53 am

DebbieMytels is a registered user.

Oops -- the website is NOT "tellurium.com." Cheryl names it correctly in her post: it's stellarium-web.org


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:37 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

DebbieMytels- So glad you were able to see the Neowise comet! I’ve heard that binoculars can be quite helpful, especially if you want to see the tail. And thanks for sharing your experience seeing Halley’s Comet. Sounds like a very memorable outing.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Spacey, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 23, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Just a heads up that the next Mars Rover is scheduled to launch 7/30. In an effort to promote the launch, NASA has published some fabulous informational packets, great for adults and kids,

Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jul 23, 2020 at 9:38 pm

Wonder whether I risked arrest two weeks ago in Mitchell Park at 4:30 in the morning. Found a clear pre-dawn view of the comet from the Wilbur playing fields, my junior high 50-some years back. Much of the perimeter floodlighting is ghastly for night vision but northeasterly was tolerable. I imagine similar citation odds by the duck pond at 10 pm. Still unsure what's legal where education is involved. As they say, it's better to ask forgiveness than permission.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:16 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Spacey - Thanks for the heads up! That sounds like a great end of summer activity. Can’t wait to check it out.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 23, 2020 at 11:42 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

musical - Thanks for sharing your experience seeing the Neowise Comet. Good question, I’m not sure if anyone has received a citation when star-gazing.


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