Langley Times

Star light, star bright in the night sky

I noticed a couple of very bright stars fairly close to one another the other night. Not being an astronomer or an astrologist, I watched for a minute or two just to make sure they weren’t landing lights attached to a 747 inbound for Vancouver airport.

After a bit of research, I discovered that we are actually experiencing a unique opportunity. Two of the brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, will be aligned in such a way that they appear to be right next to each other for the next week. The astronomer who made this statement added, “in the night time sky,” but I’m just going to guess that most of you would have figured that out.

I was reminded that Venus is seven times closer to Earth than Jupiter so it is brighter, but because Jupiter is so much larger they appear somewhat the same size. Our astronomer cautions, “Even thought they might look like they are only a couple of finger widths apart, they are actually quite far apart in space.” I had one of those planetary mobiles once and the planets did look like they were only finger widths apart, so I’m glad this scientist cleared that up for us.

I enjoy science fiction movies, and the speculation about life on other planets and UFOs is always entertaining. Certainly, there are many mysteries on our planet that might make one consider scientists from other planets came here to do experiments. Be honest, we all know people who we look at and say, “I wonder what planet he came from?”

Back in 1977, our scientists launched Voyager 1 and 2, twin spacecraft headed for Jupiter, Saturn and beyond, taking photos as they went and sending back knowledge and confirming speculation. We very arrogantly stated that these were to be the only spacecraft to ever visit these worlds. How do we know that?

Maybe as they zipped by, a reporter for the Neptune Galaxy paper wrote: “A very rudimentary unmanned plastic and steel vessel is passing our planet this week. It is visible in the night time sky and if you look up, smile, it’s taking photographs.”

They are apparently the size of an old fridge and they are going farther than we expected them to. Evidence that folks from our parents’ era designed them comes from the report, “Voyager 2 has shut off a heater to save power and extend its life.” That’s exactly what my Dad would do to save power, turn the heat down.

Voyager 2 has been going for 35 years and over 17 billion miles. Why hasn’t GM or Ford hired the guys that designed these spacecraft to see if they can improve on an eight year vehicle life and 15 MPG?

Here is something to think about. The scientists tell us, “The cameras have been shut down to save power in the generators; the space craft is now in an area where there is nothing to photograph.” How do we know there is nothing there if we don’t leave the cameras on? I’ll bet we’ve missed all sorts of alien life forms.

On board is a “golden record” containing greetings in many languages, a message from President Carter, songs by Louis Armstrong, photos of men and women,(fully clothed, this was the 1970s) and whale songs.

Won’t the aliens be surprised when they finally get here; a lot has changed in 35 years. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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