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December 24th, 2009

Why the Stars Shine at Night

Back in the land of sufficient oxygen. We had three good nights; the fourth night, the clouds came in and it threatened to snow, so we left the mountain a night early. (As it was, the road up and down was snow and ice covered...) Good news on the road home: the Horseshoe Cafe in Benson, Arizona, is open again!

On the mountain, I graded all my papers and turned in my grades. So far only two grade-grubbers have written to demand an accounting. (One of them, outraged that he only got an A-) I used "track changes" in Word to add my comments to their papers; I will review those comments, remove the actionable statements I wrote at three am under low oxygen, and send them back their papers... after Christmas.

Most of the papers were pretty good. A few were ludicrous. One of my fellow astronomers on the mountain was also grading papers; as the long nights went on, we got to chatting among ourselves about some of the "best" answers we've gotten over the years for various astronomy tests.

The winner:
Q: Why can't you see the stars during the daytime?"
A:"Because the stars are so far away that it takes all day for the light of the sun to reach them and then get reflected back to earth, so it is nighttime before we can see them."

Sunny and mid 60's (F--upper teens for you C fans) here in Tucson. I am off in a few hours to have the traditional aebelkivers with Stu Weidenschilling and his family. Happy Christmas Eve to all!



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