Rockets and the Moon

by Gene Allen

Thank you Ira! His contribution to Apollo memorabilia for the May meeting was a terrific Lego Saturn V rocket. Mine was ordered from Amazon that very night. It was kept boxed up as a secret until we were into our weeks at the beach, then built with my grandsons. Bag by bag, #1 through #12, and step by step, #1 through #336, all 1969 pieces (cute, huh?) were assembled. Had to hold Sawyer, age 6, back a bit to give Evan, 4, his turns, but both boys did an excellent job. We were all very impressed with their meticulous diligence and their attention span. They stayed focused and eager for over an hour that first day. Each day after, they came to me and asked to do another bag or two. Packaged that way, multiples of any type piece clearly represent an error, so corrections are easily made. It’s not always clear how sub-assemblies go together, though, so there were a few instances of disassembly to adjust components found to be ninety degrees out of registry.

In the end, we were all justifiably proud of our work, but then the question arose of how to get it home intact. All the cars were overloaded with stuff, so there was no space to lay it out gently cradled on a quilt. Cling wrap to the rescue! It was almost like shrink wrap, and some packaging tape longitudinally over the wrap assured against disconnection of the stages. Fins removed, it slid perfectly into a box that had brought down a beach umbrella. Home safe, the wrapping cut away, the rocket now stands protected but accessible in a place of honor. Yeah, it’s in my house.

A few nights before we started on the rocket, the Moon was a few nights before full, so it was up before sunset and, more importantly, before bedtime. My little Tele Vue 85 was set up on the deck, and the boys had their first ever telescope look at the Moon. It was a good lesson for me, because the high power crater and mountain view at the terminator that I thought would be impressive did not work for them. With no observing experience, that perspective made no sense. The desired aha moment was not achieved until I switched to a medium power eyepiece that gave them a whole Moon view. That was familiar, just lots bigger and more detailed. It’s so fulfilling to watch their faces light up with smiles and hear the “Wow!” when they actually ‘get’ it!

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This entry was posted in Mid Summer 2019, Sidereal Times and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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