Looking Out The Window
December 8, 2013
I'd made arrangements with a friend of mine to tape with my VCR from his TV which was hooked to a satellite dish. I got the coordinates for NASA Select from the Planetary Society & was going to host a viewing of the Voyager-Neptune encounter live at the local junior college. I didn't know much about space but had subscriptions to the Planetary Report and Astronomy Magazine. For the first couple hours, there was just a bunch of technical data and scientists speaking. Then some live images began coming through.Just stars I assume for gettting their bearings. Sudddenly, a picture filled the screen of something different, it was blue with clouds and strange features. NEPTUNE!!! Close up! I almost swallowed my tongue. This was Neptune as it is RIGHT NOW!...or 4 hours + some minutes before as the image took that long traveling at the speed of light to get here. I was seeing it for the first time along with the people at JPL, pondering it for myself. I was on the Voyager 2 spacecraft looking out the window at a world below me in real time! It was a feeling that I'd never had before. More amazing pictures kept coming in slowly but the first one truely blew my mind.
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.