The first humans set foot on the moon 50 years ago this month. Some people believe it never happened and the whole thing was shot in a TV studio. Whatevs. I'm fascinated by space and would consider riding up there to look back at this blue globe spinning round and round. Earlier this month, Jupiter appeared big and bold in the night sky over Utah and several of its 79 moons were visible with a simple spotting scope. We saw six of them through ours after we learned that we could easily look up and see these things.
One of the opening acts at Wiseguys Comedy Club recently relayed his story about landing in Utah for the first time and staying at The Gateway near Clark Planetarium. He thought it was cool to be next door and was able to catch a star show. As he sat in the darkened theater, a lecturer stood up and asked the audience questions. My guess is the speaker was the planetarium director, Seth Jarvis. Anyhow, he asked questions: "What is the closest star to Earth?" The comedian raised his hand and yelled, "The sun!" "Correct," the speaker said, and then asked, "What's the closest planet to Earth?" Again, the comedian raised his hand and yelled "Jupiter!" "Correct," the speaker said, who then asked a third question: "What is the coldest place in the universe?" The comic yelled, "A nebula!" The speaker then looked directly at the funny guy and said, "Please sir, could you let some of the kids have a chance to answer?" Apparently, the comedian had come to a star show that was made up of an audience of elementary school kids.
Bless Jarvis and his staff at the planetarium. I'm going to let you all in on a secret: The best odd little store for doo-dads, puzzles, things for your hands and mind to play with are at the planetarium gift shop. Now that I told you, don't be surprised to find me sitting in a corner there playing with hourglasses and sandscapes, Newton's cradles that light up, rockets, science tubes and things that glow in the dark all to escape from the world of real estate. The prices are super cheap, too.
Whether you believe in the walk on the moon or not, our Clark Planetarium has a moon rock on display that has been permanently loaned by NASA. It's about the size of a golf ball and you can see it for free. Lastly, a shout out to Jarvis, who just lost his dad, the legendary academic Boyer Jarvis. Seth is putting in his retirement this month after 30 years of running the place for all of us to enjoy. Thanks, you big space geek!