“A memo pad that looks as if it has been cut directly out of the earth’s crust. The earth’s surface seems to be whittled away as the pages of the pad are used, and the pattern of the geographical features and the coastal lines changes. A memo pad that lets you enjoy the same kind of sensation you get from diving down into the ocean.”
SANTA AND THE MOON
Peter Barthel, Communicating Astronomy to the Public, May 2012, (12) p13 – 15.
“We have established that illustrators and designers draw moons ad libitum, according to their taste, but often physically incorrect. The most common mistake is the early morning waning moon shown in an evening scene. Our research focussed on Sinterklaas, Santa Claus, and Christmas scenes, with a short side trip to Sint Maarten and Halloween. The apparent lack of knowledge concerning the physics of the moon phases is most likely widespread and not just limited to the countries examined here. Further investigations are however outside the scope of the present research.”
(see more of Popperfont’s Sciencegeek Advent Calendar Extravanganza here)
By DAVID NG
Cor Crikey! And g’day mate! Right now we’re walking up to Hawaii’s Gemini Observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea. It’s got a beaut of a telescope inside, and we’re hoping to find a new planet today.
(Whispering) Here we are at the front door. But we should first give it a bit of space. Patience is important when dealing with telescopes. And we’ve got to be careful with that door. It’s locked! Looks like the observatory doesn’t open for another 20 minutes.
(20 minutes later) Alright mate! Let’s go! (running) Quickly mate! We’re already inside, but we’ve got to move fast! If you look around, you might see that there are other humans around here that will also want to use the telescope, but if you get there first, you’re in there mate. You can use one hand for the controls, and the other to fend the others off.
(Reaching the console) We’re the first here! And it looks like we’ll get to have it to ourselves too. Ripper! Looks pretty complicated, but I’ve been around telescopes all my life and this is definitely an “on” button. But before I press it, let’s first camouflage ourselves behind this adjustable office chair, just in case! I’m going to turn it on now.
(Apparatus makes a noise). Watch out mate! We’ve got to stay extra alert now. Remember – never do this without the supervision of an expert like myself around.
It’s on. And don’t forget to be on the look-out for other humans. We can scare them off by making ourselves look as big as possible – spread your arms wide and look like you’re real pissed. That’s right, like that. Beauty mate! Alright, now let’s go find us some planets…
(7 hours) Did you see that?
(12 days) Did you see that?
(4 week) Did you see that?
(6 weeks) Did you see that?
(7 weeks) Crikey! Did you see that?
(3 months and 1 week) Did you see that?
(4 months) Did you see that?
(5 months and 3 weeks) Did you see that?
(6 months later and looking weary) Well mates, that’s all we have time for in this show. It’s a shame we didn’t find a new planet but that’s sometime how it is in these observatories. See you next time!
Some of the text reads:
“Most of them are huge because those are the kind we learned to detect first, but now we’re finding that small ones are actually more common. We know nothing about what’s on any of them. With better telescopes, that would change. This is an exciting time.”