Ruminations on the Universe

2008-02-09 05:36:14.000 – Stacey Kawecki,  Observer

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Waking up to the summit in the clear, with clouds above and clouds below was definitely a surprise this afternoon. It was a surprise because I was absolutely sure we’d be in the clouds all day. That’s the weather on Mount Washington for you: fickle, challenging, and the producer of many marvels. Overnight, also unexpected, stars were abundant (they are always abundant, but most times we cannot see them), Orion, the Big and Little Dippers, the Gemini, the Milky Way, and even a shooting star were all crystal clear, with millions of tiny stars dotting the black back drop of the moonless sky like diamonds upon velvet. Or, like snowflakes upon our black board. It’s amazing, thinking about the size of the universe. The size of most of the visible stars that we see is almost incomprehensibly large and massive, scattered and organized by that strange force called gravity in space. Looking up from the top of the tower inspires humbling feelings of awe. We’re just little people on a small planet, orbiting a medium sized star in the vast Universe. Take it down by a few powers of ten, and you’ve got the tiny snowflakes falling from the sky. Even smaller, are the structures of the molecules that make up the snowflakes, smaller than that, atoms that make up the molecules, and most of that is empty space. Sometimes it is indeed a pleasant surprise when you’re wrong, it gets your brain thinking.

Speaking of pleasant surprises, it seems this week has been full of them. Yesterday, one very generous edu-tripper brought with him lobsters for everyone! So, I awoke to a lobster all cooked and ready for me to eat. The only issue was that I’ve only had lobster once, and I didn’t have to do any of the dirty work. So, with much coaching on technique, I was able to eat the claws.

And some more surprises are on the way. Not only has the summit nearly met last month’s snowfall total, but more snow is on the way! A large low spinning up in Canada will drop snow all over the state starting late today. It will also sweep an arctic cold front through the region, dropping temperatures into the negative teens by Sunday night. Our relatively calm week is about to change. The low will intensify as it exits into the Canadian Maritimes, and strong high pressure will force its way south, providing a tight pressure gradient, and winds will start whipping on the summit Sunday night, once again. There really is never a dull moment atop Mount Washington!

 

Stacey Kawecki,  Observer

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