On my list for a long time, Pigtails and I finally visited the Drake Observatory this summer.
Each Friday evening, the dome opens to the public for a free speak and peek. The lecture that warm July dusk covered moons in our solar system.
The room was tiny.
Somebody in the general vicinity had rotten armpits.
It might have been me.
I forgot to smear deodorant that morning.
Let's go geek, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is interesting. That big mother has surface liquid. Plus an atmosphere, rain, lakes, seas and seasons. Bring a jacket, temp dips to -290F.
Jupiter has 61 moons, that we know of. Scientists suspect there are more hiding. My favorite of the four largest Galilean spheres is lo. It's slightly larger than our moon (not sure why our moon doesn't have a name.)
Lo is a hot tempest, boiling with 400 active volcanoes. Some of those monster volcanic cones are taller than Mount Everest. The nerds believe the unrest on lo is caused by Jupiter's magnetosphere. Jup' blasts an invisible ring of high powered magnetic energy. Lo happens to orbit within this ring of hurt and gets smacked hard. The juice microwaves lo from the inside out. Lava and plasma erupt with enough force that they are flung into space. Lo ~ Hades.
The lecture was sharp, but we were itching to crack the dome and fire up the refracting scope.
120 yrs old, the beast still has its game on. It sucked in Saturn and Titan like they were a billboard 10 miles away in West Des Moines. Brass mechanical gears on the base slowly snicked to pan the lens with Earth's rotation, keeping our targets locked in.
Daughter whispered whoa wow as she studied Saturn's rings. I reminded her not to sneeze.
A smaller reflector telescope outside was snooping on our moon, another was dialing in a nebula.
Getting late now, we unwound down the dome and scooted out in silence, realizing how small we are.