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OK, I've always thought myself a little jaded when it comes to the realm of space. I am after all a child of the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo years and remember watching Neil Armstrong take those first steps on the moon a few days after my tenth birthday. I remember rovers when they weren't little computerized buggies running around on Mars and Skylab was the space station.

I've read about space, I've looked at photographs of space, I've seen artist's renderings of space and I've listened to professors discuss space.

But until I took my Astronomy class this semester, I'd never actually "seen" space. Until tonight.

We went out on the rooftop of the parking garage tonight and braving the rapidly dropping temperatures and a cloud front moving over the area to attempt to use the computers on the 8" telescopes to view three celestial objects. Between the computers acting up and the weather, we wound up only having time to find one object.

But what an object.

For the first time in my life, I saw Saturn and it's rings with my own two eyes. (OK, one eye, but let's not quibble.) It wasn't the best of conditions for observing (the concrete of the parking garage was releasing the heat it has stored up through the day, making the atmospherics wavery, like looking out toward a desert horizon), but there it was. I could vaguely make out the stripes on Saturn and the Cassini gap between the A and B ring. The instructor helped point out Titan also, a much fainter object near Saturn.

It was too cool. Sorry, but I'm really geeked right now about this. I am so looking forward to when the warmer weather gets here and we can spend more time out doing observations without everyone complaining about freezing.


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