Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summertime Joys and Lament

My summer vacation is soon coming to a close as school is starting for me this week. I wonder where the time has gone. It feels like it was never really a vacation to begin with. However, I don't regret for a single moment of what I spent my summer doing. So what did I spend my summer doing? Well, for the majority of my summer, I volunteered with this summer tutoring program for children. In reality, it was more like I supervised and disciplined children. It was a quite an experience, and I met many great people. I also learned quite a bit about methods of dealing with children, and I know now that I probably don't want a profession that works too much with them. Occasionally, it's fine, but seeing them everyday is a different story. It seems like it was such a long time ago since my last day when in reality, it has been a little less than two weeks.

Those two weeks after volunteering were not spent idly though. They were spent at band camp, and the only word that comes to mind to describe it is hot. Marching in time while playing an instrument is hard enough as it is, but when it is about a hundred degrees, you pretty much wish you had never gotten out of bed to leave in the first place. Admittedly, it was fun part of the time as there were some games here and there, and we received some pretty cool music this year. I am still debating whether it was worth the arm tan and the fatigue though, but for now, let's just say it was. Hmm... when I look back, I actually had a pretty productive summer. Though how I got through doing all that in this heat, I'll never know.

Anyways, today was my first and probably last opportunity for me to have a stargazing session, since when I go back to school, my nights will most likely be filled with homework rather than stars. However, it was nice to know I have not lost my touch for identifying stars. Tonight, there was a clear sky this cool evening, as there usually is during the summer, and I was immediately able to locate the Summer Triangle, which sat prominently towards the center of the sky. Deneb, Vega, and Altair were able to guide me to seeing the constellation of Cygnus, the swan. After that, I followed Vega to the brightest star in the constellation of Draco, the dragon. I was unable to view the full constellation due to the fact that my roof covered half of it, and I was unable to see all the dimmer stars. I spent a long time staring that some stars beneath Draco, wondering what they could be. I concluded that they might possibly be some stars that are a part of the constellation, Cepheus, named after the King of Aethiopia. Soon, my eyes wandered to a couple of dimmer stars towards the eastern horizon, and I eventually identified it as stars from Pegasus, the winged horse. I spent a while looking for Ursa Major and Minor since it used to be the first constellation I would locate in the sky, but today, I was a little too late as it had already began rotating towards the west where the roof obscured my vision. 

For the most part, this is all I saw tonight as I was only outside for about half an hour around the ten o' clock hour. In a more ideal situation, I would be out in my front yard at a later time with no light pollution for a longer period of time. However, I know that the only things I somewhat have control over are the time and the location. Sometimes, I feel I should make a proposition to the city or county to have a day where everyone just turns off their lights for one night, and we all look up at the night sky. As much as I think it would be pretty cool, I know it probably wouldn't happen. Oh well, I will have to find other ways to see more in the sky. I suppose I do need to learn how to control my telescope a little better anyways.

This summer, to supplement my lack of stargazing, I have been doing research online during my spare time on astronomy. Most of the time, I go online to the NASA or JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) to see what is the latest news and what opportunities there are for students. For news, I mostly read what appears interesting to me such as merging star clusters and the Perseid meteor shower. For the opportunities, I have not found many. Some of them included projects that you create and submit to NASA, but with school coming up, I don't really have time for that. Then, there is Space Week that will be coming up in October, in which I will try to do something that week. Other than those few things, there is not much I can do. Well, I guess I'll just keep up with the news and if an opportunity comes knocking, I'll be ready.

To sum it up, my summer has been pretty productive and not much of a vacation. I am pretty happy with all the things I did this summer though. I am pretty sure it beats sitting at home for hours on end trying to come up with something interesting to do. So as my summer vacation will soon come to a close, my journey back to school will soon begin. Good bye summer! It was nice while it lasted!