We had a stack of old National Geographics in my house when I was growing up and I just adored the maps that would sometimes be included. One I particularly remembering coveting was a gray map of the moon which I hung above my bed. I thought that map was the greatest thing since sliced bread and then the other day I am surfing the web and I spot these beautiful scans of colorful moon maps from the 1970s. This is sliced bread that is pre-buttered.
Warning, looking at these maps can be very absorbing and may result in lost time.
This is from a book I had as a kid (it is in rough shape now) called The How and Why Wonder Book of Stars. Growing up so close to New York City, I didn’t often get a view of the stars. When I did, they were often just faint vague points of light.
My exposure to the stars at this age was almost exclusive to the time I spent at my uncle in northern New Jersey. We would visit a few times every summer and occasionally stayed overnight. On those night I would brave the darkness, and the mosquitoes, to spend a while outside.
I would attempt to spot constellations and if the conditions were right, shooting stars. Some great memories were made sitting or laying on an old wooden table while the dew collected on every surface as the day turned to night. I would be drenched by the time I was called inside, but it didn’t matter to me.
This was my only opportunity to spot the stars and planets I had only seen in books and television. Not something I would take lightly. Every night after a good session of star-gazing, I would fall asleep thinking about how little I knew about the universe. This would drive me to find more books and magazines as a kid. As a pre-adult it would eventually lead me to take some wonderful astronomy courses in college.
A lot of the origins of the “whys” in my life are hard to pin down. But I know that my love of the stars started early and most likely from books like, The How and Why Wonder Book of Stars.
When I was a young kid we still had a giant hi-fi stereo in my house and the core of my family’s music listening was not the new fangled 8 track system, but the tried and true turntable. Of course my parents’ taste in music consisted of albums along the line of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass’ Whipped Cream & Other Delights, so it wasn’t the most thrilling musical lineup for a young kid.
I remember digging through the piles of records one day when I found a weird record that consisted of “space sounds”. I am not too clear on the albums origins and I have been trying to track it down for a while. They were electronic sound effects, which I assume were fake, that were supposed to simulate the sounds of our planetary neighbors. It was awesome!
I had basically given up home of hearing anything like these recordings ever again. Luckily I saw this post about the NASA website this morning “œEerie Sounds of Saturn’s Radio Emissions”. This thing had been out for 2 years! How could I have missed this?
It was exactly as I remembered, and boy did it take me back to those early years. Back when I thought the Jetsons was a peak into the future and I would own a summer house on Mars by the time I was 25. It’s not the future I predicted, but at least I can hear the sweet sounds of our distant planet for real now. Baby steps.