Launch Pad Diary #5

Friday July 16, 2010 4:15 pm
I had the intention to blog about Launch Pad every night before going to bed, but we’ve spent so much time looking at the night sky, both with and without “official” supervision, and my brain has been so super-heated from all the astronomy, physics, math, space science, and so on, that I’m not even close to processing all that I’ve been taking in. I’ve been taking notes like mad, but trying to turn what we’ve learned into daily summaries has turned out to be beyond my abilities. (Rachel Swirsky, on the other hand, has been doing a great job of liveblogging the whole shebang for Jeff Vandermeer’s blog, here:
Our experiences have included not only nightly star staring, but also a nature hike of the Turtle Rock Trail in Vedauwoo State Park.
I honestly find myself without words to describe it. Any of it. The scent of the ground pines at Turtle Rock, the emotion of seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time (or the second time, or the third time), the sight of the Andromeda galaxy with the naked eye and the visceral realization that it took those photons 40 million years of nonstop travel until it hit MY EYE. These are all things I have experienced this week, but I find myself without the WORDS to express what they are like or what they mean. I’m not used to being at a loss for words, but I sat in the midst of a pine forest on a rock alone yesterday to write a poem about what it was like… and nothing came out.
I’m not worried about writer’s block, but it’s clear my head is very, very full. And ultimately everything I’ve learned is not going to come out in descriptions of my own experience, but filtered through the fiction (and maybe poetry) I’ll produce in the future. Which is the point of this whole workshop, isn’t it?


  1. You make me feel lucky: My dad gave us a look at Saturn from an Edmund Scientific Co. reflector when I was a kid. Never gets old (ironically, come to think of Saturn’s role in mythology).
    OTOH, I’m jealous that you got to go to this thing!

  2. The Launch Pad Writers Workshop sounds like a lot of fun. I like the concept of giving authors access to current research, so it can be used in the process of storytelling when opportune, or inspire poetry.
    Thanks for writing about it; I hadn’t heard of this unique workshop idea before.
    I remember the first time I looked at Saturn’s rings too… ‘There is really a shiny ring there!’ And it’s a lovely effect of stargazing, this sense of wonder and awe.

    1. You’re welcome!
      In this case, Saturn looked much like Galileo described it: “a bean with ears.” Awe-inspiring, though, to realize what that odd shape meant.

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