28 Aug 2010

Hestia and The Star Weekend

Dark Skies over Scotland - cos no bugger lives here
I was somewhat surprised to to discover that not only am I a goddess of home and hearth, I also appear to be a large, dark main belt asteroid.  No jokes.  Hestia is, in fact, the head honcho of the Hestia asteroid clump.  I was discovered by N. R. Pogson on August 16, 1857.

This is uncannily close to my birthday.  Obviously, not the same YEAR though.

Maybe I was born to be Hestia? Who knows..

This weekend was the Bute Astronmical Society's Star Weekend and, other than tonight's BBQ on the beach (will be pouring with rain and too cloudy to see anything), Sonshine and I have been at EVERYTHING.

Friday night saw a lecture from the Astronomer Royal for Scotland out at Mount Stuart, in the Marble Hall.  It may have been positively balmy outside, but I've been to too many events in the Marble Hall and the cold seeps up your legs like Death himself....so I had my winter boots on! Oh how people sniggered....until about half eight and they were FROZEN to the marrow *mwahahahaha <-evil laugh*

Marble hall - long exposure pic = artificially bright. Dark as the Earl of Hell's waistcoat usually
Sonshine was one of a sprinkling of kids, and I'm afraid to say that the complexity of the Lecture simply zoomed over his head.  As it did his mother's.  The Astronomer did lots of excellent magic tricks, which kept the kids from keeling over with boredom, but Sonshine had brought his Horrible Science book on Electricity and spent a happy hour reading that in the dim light of the hall.  I had no book and resorted to picking off all my nail polish off instead.  I also gave myself a crick in the neck looking at this:

© Lucinda Lambton/Arcaid/Corbis
I had to make the pic quite big so that you could see (at least a little) that the ceiling is decorated as the night sky, with all the constellations picked out in golden images against a stunning French Navy coloured sky.  The stars themselves are glass discs, so allowing light to pinprick the dome and pick out the star positions.  Bloody gorgeous. And yes,those are ALL different marbles used in the pillars.  Over the top Victorian Gothic splendour, man!  You must visit when you're here!

Anyhoo, I digress...

Not only was the lecture complicated, the Astronomer Royal is a bit of a mumbler.  Those at the back couldn't hear, so the Mount Stuart staff whizzed around and conjured up a microphone.  All it led to was louder mumbling.

I really think that all these scientific bods must be out their heads on some kind of banana skin tobacco because the concepts are so utterly mind-blowing.  How light BENDS round a black hole, but doesn't get sucked in.....how Black Holes get smaller and denser as they get older (a bit like myself) and how we would be stretched like spaghetti (technical name: spaghettification) if we were sucked into one.

By 9pm I didn't know if it was New York or New Year.... we'd been talking about how long it would take you to get to the far side of the universe.  I can't remember the details but I can assure you it is a bloody LONG time.  Wait - yes! I can!  If the same journey equated to Glasgow to London on the train, the train would need to travel at a century per millimetre!  That's nearly as slow as Scot Rail!!!

Punch-drunk, we exited, dazed and confused, to the car park and Sonshine and I drove home in bewildered silence.

Today was a series of Science Workshops at the Pavilion.  I kinda hoped that he would have forgotten about it all because I could just have done with a day of getting in about the ironing (it's like K2 in there...yetis lurk in my laundry pile) but no, he was up at 7am bouncing around with excitement.

I am being unduly influenced by some of the lovely fashion and beauty blogs that I follow so I actually made a Bit of An Effort with my outfit and make up and suddenly....we were LATE.

I huckled Sonshine into a jacket and hurried down to the Pavilion - only about 10 mins walk from me - and as we rushed through the 'main street'  Yes, those quote marks ARE needed, I thought that it was suspiciously quiet for 11am.  I checked my watch.  TEN AM.

Our Bauhaus Pavilion :-)
 Ah well, we were early enough to help with the setting up and it meant that I got to know some of the BAS members a bit better.

The Science Workshops were for children and I saw with sinking heart that only a couple of kids, including Sonshine had turned up for the 11am one.  *climbs onto high horse and starts to pontificate*  WHY don't people bring their kids to this kind of thing?! Do folk think that science is rubbish? Too hard? Easier to sit at home and vegetate in front of the telly? Do they think that it's better to hope for a better life courtesy of Simon Cowell and a big record contract? Scientists and scientific reasearch are two of the areas where Britain leads the world.  It is an absolute DISGRACE that scientists need to go cap in hand for money when footballers can blow a day's wages on a sport's car. *steps off high horse and retires to bar for drink*

Anyway, it was BRILLIANT!  Sonshine was entranced ALL day - building a hovercraft out of a CD, a thaumatrope....and there was an inflatable planetarium too...what's not to like!!  By the end of the day, there were about 20 kids, so not too bad - but they'd hoped for 40 per workshop, not for whole day!

When the sessions were over, all he could talk about was physics and chemistry experiments.....and how he was desperate to get home to play the Wii.  I stopped walking and stared at him in disbelief.  We've spent all day learning how to photograph stars, building hovercrafts and shit and YOU JUST WANT TO PLAY THE WII????

'But mum,' he soothed, in that tone of voice that makes me think of being immediately placed in a Nursing Home For My Own Good.,  ''Super Mario GALAXY....it's still to do with SPACE'

So, as I type this to you.  He's down there feeding stars or some such shit.  Happy little boy = happy mum

Have a great weekend :-)


  1. The Wii is has lots of sucking kids in power!

  2. Dear Ali, great post. I often wonder if I had children if I could rearrange my face into looking interested at days out like these... The Actor has been regaling me with "interesting facts" about the Universe after watching Stephen Hawking's programme. I've perfected a look where I appear to be listening... xx

  3. Christina - you will find yourself with the ability to arrange your face into picture of absorbing interest whilst wondering what it would be like to have sex with Johnny Depp and/or George Clooney. God bless both of them, they have kept me sane through many a boring pta meeting!

    Ali x


I'd love you to comment, but I get a phenomenal amount of spam comments on here for some reason - so everything is moderated. But only for spam. Any other comment will be posted :-D

Explore the ruined citadel of m'blog: