Geocaching the universe

My first geocache find coincided with Pluto Time here in Los Angeles. Pluto time being, of course, the time at which the illumination of the world around you matches the light levels on Pluto at noon (LPT or local Pluto time of course).

9 and a half years ago an interplanetary space probe was launched into space as part of NASA’s New Frontiers program. It took a year to reach Jupiter. On July 14th this year, New Horizons will do a flyby of the once-again planet Pluto, its moons and maybe more objects in the Kuiper Belt.

Our reach is growing. I may have been always doomed to dream of stars and galaxies and want for life beyond this blue marble. I went to a space camp once. Long before I came to find delight in stories of the Doctor and his adventures, I heard the name Aldrin “buzzing” (hah hah) in and out and around me for as long as I can remember from my family. This might point to the reason why I’m likely to verbally maim you for any ideas that landing on the moon didn’t happen. I went to space camp in my adolescence, built 3 tiered rockets and loved all things NASA, Star Trek and Star Wars. I cried when the shuttle did a flyby over Los Angeles and made its final descent into retirement. I was privately devastated to have never made it to watch a launch first hand… Or be on it as it careened out of the atmosphere.

My family and I frequently count meteors on peak shower nights. I’ve been known to drive into the canyons to get away from light and watch an eclipse glow red, or set up telescopes on cars with friends and family to watch Venus transit the sun. The fascination never really vanishes for me.

The expanse of universe is so great and grand. Perhaps it goes beyond even what we imagine the universe to be, and we have yet to know or discover it. Sadly I did not choose the path of astronaut or space cowgirl. Instead, I hope and imagine that one day little geocaches will be tucked away for treasure seekers at the next planet on the right past the butterfly nebula. Rather than walking our neighborhood hills, we will take space walks and jettison to the far reaches of space to find what the last person left for us to discover.


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