Sunday, November 2, 2014

On the Mend

Last post I noted a less than stellar week, health-wise. Well, I was not recovering quickly enough, so I went to see my doctor Monday afternoon. He said I had 2 issues: a virus in my mouth creating little openings in the skin for the normal bacteria ever present there to enter the blood stream and produce a temperature. I am now on an antibiotic and much improved.

Fall has arrived with the overnight low in the 50s. Tonight it may dip into the 40s. Since this is Florida, that is significant. I enjoy wearing long sleeve shirts without sweating up a storm.

So let's see, this week was Halloween. At my school the primary way we recognize that day is the second and third grades get costumed up according to a theme and they parade around campus first thing in the morning. The second grade dressed up by decades (the 20s, 30s, 40s, etc.) and the third grade dressed up as weird words/homophones/homonyms. Hey, this is a school for the gifted. It fits. Many of the students and teachers in the other grades also wear costumes. And since Halloween was Friday this year, an additional festive feeling was in the air. In addition, the Speech and Debate team was gone to a competition so several of my students were gone.

Now about Astronomy. In my class the students learn the constellations 2 or 3 per week until they know all 66 that you can see from our latitude. In recent weeks they have learned Piscis Austrinus, Capricorn, Cygnus, Vulpecula, Cepheus and Ursa Minor. If you took Astronomy from me, maybe they ring a bell. It is especially nice to see the students respond when we have a stargaze and they actually get to see these in the real sky. That is the one thing that makes my Astronomy class different from 99% of the other classes in America.

We also participated in the Great World Wide Star Count, an activity in which students estimate the limiting magnitude of the sky at their home location. We did it as a class at a star gaze at school and found that straight up we could see 5th magnitude stars. Closer to the horizon, light pollution from Sarasota and Venice reduced the number of stars we could see, which is the point of the exercise, to bring awareness to people of the effect of light pollution on our view of the heavens. I have been in locations where there were no lights within 38 miles and the skies were truly full of stars. The majority of people never get to see that and so have little or no appreciation of how beautiful the night sky is. If you ever get a chance to see a clear dark sky (say at a national park) please do so.

I'll step down from my soap box now.

Did I say that it is November already? To paraphrase a famous Latin dictum; tempus fidgets.
Thanks for reading this.

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