Last night I had the privilege of speaking about astronomy to the boys at Sacred Heart Apostolic School in Rolling Prairie, Indiana. After telling them a bit about myself, I narrated the story of the cosmological revolutions of the past century, answering the question how we know the Universe is expanding. Afterwards, I explained the current understanding of our Solar System in order to justify why the classification of Pluto as a dwarf planet is justified. I left 20 minutes for questions and was glad I did. The boys asked all sorts of great questions about astronomy and about my experiences. As I then prepared to do some observational astronomy with the seniors, I kept thinking about how marvelous a group of boys these were. Although I had barely gotten to know them, I could see their authentic wonder at how the world works. It made me think that wonder is the best attitude with which to keep the mind sharp. As we gain more experiences in life, wonder can fade, but like a bonfire, it doesn’t have to; we just need to keep feeding the fire and fanning the flame. Out on the soccer field under the night sky, we were then able to look at the crescent Moon and Jupiter (and its moons) through a small telescope and a couple of pairs of binoculars. One shooting star capped off a wonderful night of summer astronomy.
Tomorrow I fly to San Diego for the 228th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Stay tuned for updates.