Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Apollo Missions and Life

10...9... main ignition start...6...5...4...3...2...1...0......lift off.....we have lift off, 32 minutes past the hour................launch tower cleared.

"I describe it as a nervous novice driving a wide car down a narrow alley, gotta make corrections and what it is , it's those big motors underneath gimbling underneath, you know swirling back and forth to keep you in balance. You feel by the seat of your pants, thinking gee that launch tower is just a few feet off the one side, I hope this sucker ain't gonna gimble in that direction too much and then when they tell ya launch tower cleared you kinda say oh wosh, we don't have to worry about hitting that moose, then off you go" Mike Collins Apollo 11.

Was watching In The Shadow of the Moon last night for like about the 20 gazillionth time and it really hit home how these astronauts who ventured to the Moon all had profound experiences, how all their lives had changed, so much so that what they once thought was important, now seemed trivial. Some even made major decisions about following God, it changed their lives, little things like not worrying about the price of gas any more, about crowded places like malls, Alan Bean is happy now there were people after visiting such a desolate place as the Moon.

After going through a life changing event myself I can relate to some of their thinking, let me make this perfectly clear, I don't pretend that what has happened to me is any worse then what has happened to a lot of other people, I know of people in far off worse places then I, serious illnesses and the such, but I know somewhat how they feel and what they are going through, but that's what it is all about , helping each other get through difficult times to the other side.

This blog post is something I have put off for a long time, I hope by reading it you will in some way benefit, maybe even help you get through your rough times. It's about how I handled an overwhelming situation by making what I feel to be the right lifelong decisions, and of course relating it back to the Apollo Missions, my most favorite thing ever, so here we go.

When it seemed no one was was there for me, God was. I said God look, just been told after 30 years of Marriage, the one I loved no longer wants to be with me, mostly my fault made some bad decisions, God said no problem, he is after all in the business of forgiveness, with Jesus, John 3:16 and all, He took me, put me in the command module, strapped me in, said hold on, and I was off.

Now the fun begins. Initially I was trying to make all kinds of course corrections early on with all the buttons at my disposal in my command module to try and get where I thought I had to get to, God of course was correcting my wrong corrections with the rocket's motors, pulling me away from the Launch Tower at just the right time, keeping me straight. It is reassuring that no matter how bad we continue to screw things up, God knows about it ahead of time, I mean it's not like he's up there saying "Wow...never saw that coming....any ideas, Peter...Jesus........anyone?" he is there to guide and correct you from as Mike Collins put it "hitting that moose" which is very comforting.

"Will metal stand this kind of vibration, have the engineers realized how this thing shakes? because it shakes so much more then I ever imagined." Alan Bean Apollo 12.

Since God is my engineer, he knew what I could stand, no matter what I was going through especially in the early stages of my adventure like getting off the launch pad and the forces at work against it, with God's help I got through it in one piece.

"Those engines, those 5 engines, when ignited shakes the whole body to reverberation from it, it's very emotional." Edgar Mitchell Apollo 14.

Actually very emotional, you know when God's guiding engines cut in, even though it shakes you to the core, you know you are going somewhere forward.

"You're not just riding along, a lot of people think you're just lying on your back waiting for it to happen, but not really, because every second is something of significance" Dave Scott Apollo15.

From the outside looking in it looks like the person who is working through a major upset is kinda just getting on when in reality, the person is changing their whole outlook on life, making decisions on the go, reflecting and growing, coming to grips with what has been dealt them and in my case couldn't have happened without God, Christ and the Holy Spirit to help me.

Once you get off the launch pad, into space and on to your new place, somewhere between where you were and where you're going, the blindfold comes completely off, you look behind to see where you came from getting smaller and smaller, but more important it's gravity or effect on you is less and less, your new destination on the other hand getting big and bigger and it's pull on you, it's gravity increases, the "why me".... "who's fault is it" questions start to fade away and the anticipation of a new start becomes more focused.

"I always thought of myself as one of the more fearful astronauts, really, and when I look out that window of the spacecraft I would think if that window blows out I'm going to die in about a second...there's death right out side there about an inch away." Alan Bean Apollo 12.

Sometimes, alone in your little command module, you do fret what God has in store for you, even though you are not alone, God is always there even though sometimes it feels like he's not. You vacillate between fear and exaltation.

"I didn't feel it as loneliness, I certainly didn't feel it as fear, I felt it as awareness almost a feeling of exaltation, I kind of liked it, good feeling, everything was going well in the command module, had my happy little home, had the bright lights on, everything was fine, I enjoyed that time."
Mike Collins Apollo 11.

This post was not about me insomuch as what God has done for me, given me a richer fuller life, a greater appreciation for his creations, whether it be people, or the cosmos, oh and eternal life, not afraid of dying anymore. Where this blog goes from here is still unknown to me, won't be quite the same as I'm not quite the same, I'll still post some of my images, some reviews, who knows. Through it all God has placed key people in my life and even though it's quiet most times in my brightly lit command module their voices come through loud and clear on my com channel giving me words of encouragement and guidance, a lot have been my readers and I thank you for that, special mention to Astro- Nuts and Fishhawk who have been on the com almost daily.

"I felt that I was standing on a plateau, a plateau somewhere out there in space. A plateau that science and technology allowed me to get to but now what I was seeing, even more important, what I was feeling at that moment in time, science and technology had no answers for, literally no answers. Because there I was and there you are...there you are Earth, dynamic, overwhelming, and I felt that the world just...just too much purpose, too much logic, was just to beautiful to have happened by accident. There has to be somebody bigger then you and bigger then me and I mean this in a spiritual sense not a religious sense, there has to be a creator of the universe who stands above the religions that we ourselves create to govern our lives."

Eugene Cernan, Apollo 10&17, Last Man on the Moon.

I'll leave you now with my first Moon video taken years ago, kind of crude, but it shows that even though something that looks like it isn't going anywhere.... when you look up at the Moon for example.......well when you look real close, when you look under a magnifying glass, aka telescope at it you see nothing is constant, you see movement.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

10 Free Astronomy Podcasts on iTunes

Karen Schweitzer, the Guide to business School and who also writes about online degrees for has once again offered her most excellent services, this time giving us 10 places to receive free podcasts from iTunes.

Have your iTunes application open before hand and then click on the below links which will then open up your iTunes store with the free astronomy podcast.

Listening to podcasts can be a great way to learn about anything while you are on the go. There are hundreds of astronomy-related podcasts that you can listen to and participate in online. Many of them are available for free through iTunes. Here are 10 to try in your spare time.

Astronomy Cast- Hosted by Dr. Pamela L. Gay of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Fraser Cain of Universe Today, Astronomy Cast is iTunes' most popular astronomy-related podcast. Most episodes focus on what is known about the universe and things that are still being discovered.

This Week In Space- This Week in Space is a new podcast that reports astronomy-related news. Episodes are hosted by Miles O'Brien, a journalist and member of the NASA Advisory Council.

NASACast- NASACast is a video podcast direct from NASA. Episodes focus on the latest astronomy news as well as current NASA missions.

Hubblecast- Hosted by Dr. Joe Liske, a German astronomer at the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), Hubblecast covers news about astronomy and the famed Hubble Space Telescope. This weekly podcast from Astronomy Magazine reports up-to-date news and previews upcoming sky events.

Astronomy 141- Professor Richard Pogge of Ohio State University presents audio recordings of his lectures through this free podcast. Lectures are designed for non-science majors and explore life in the universe.

Naked Astronomy- Naked Astronomy is a relatively new podcast from the Naked Scientists, a group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University. The podcast hosts explore a wide range of space science topics and conduct interviews with professional astronomers.

Slacker Astronomy- This podcast offers interesting interviews as well as news stories about astronomy and science. Slacker Astronomy also presents the occasional video on special topics.

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe- This weekly podcast features a discussion among five skeptics who cover everything from the paranormal to controversial claims--all from a scientific point of view.

Mysterious Universe- The Mysterious Universe podcasts covers the latest in science, technology, and astronomy with a strong emphasis on the strange, extraordinary, and just plain weird.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

National Geographic Channel's "A Traveler's Guide to The Planets"

Get ready with an out of this world journey to the planets with National Geographic Channel's "A Traveler's Guide To The Planets" a 3 day, 6 part mini series premiering Sunday February 14, a.k.a Valentines Day 9pm EDT. What better way to cap off an evening with that someone special then to tour Saturn and Jupiter.

Using a combination of the latest images taken with the biggest and best Earth telescopes and stunning CGI animations you'll navigate through Saturn's rings, tour it's surface and view it's amazing auroras, then it's on to Jupiter, dive below it's atmosphere which is so dense the pressure of which could crush a car into the size of a tin can. Jupiter the solar system's vacuum cleaner, with it's immence gravitational pull sucking in comets and asteroids that would otherwise pummel the Earth, without Jupiter they estimate we'd be hit by a comet every 50 years or so, life as we know it would not exist.

Monday, February 15, at 9pm EDT. Travel to Mars, Venus and Mercury. Did you know that 4.5 billion years ago Venus and Earth began as planetary twins, formed right next to each other, even exchanging materials, parts of Venus were falling on Earth and visa versa. You'll learn all kinds of cool things about these 3 planets, again the animations and visuals on the preview dvds were awesome.

Tuesday, February 16, at 9pm EDT. Last stops on our journey of the Planets, Neptune, Uranus and yes..little Pluto, still a planet in Bobland. You'll see stunning new pictures of these planets and visit the New Horizons control room where scientists are working with the first spacecraft to visit Pluto around 2015, just past Jupiter, 1979 more days to arrival at Pluto.

Unfortunately the mini series is only showing for now in the U.S. but as in past NGC space shows have come to Canada within 6-8 months through the Discovery and Canadian National Geographic Channels.. I will update you on this one either through my blog or my Facebook where I am spending some time at.

I'll leave you now with a preview clip of Saturn.