Saturday, May 31, 2008
"That's Vega," I pointed to the the star glowing through the Riverside smog. One of was my classes let out at dusk. The girl who sat next to me lived nearby. We were walking home. She knew I was taking an astronomy* class and challenged me to name what few stars we could see. "And over there is Altair, and that's Deneb and..."
"Can an astronaut touch a star?" she asked.
I thought she was kidding.
She wasn't. "Can he bring one back to Earth?"
"They're too big. Way bigger than the Earth. And far away. Except for the sun, that is. And they'd be way to hot to-"
"The sun is a star?" she said.
I couldn't believe it. I'd been proud to get into University of California at Riverside. Yet here was a fellow student who thought a star was something you could slip in your pocket. How could someone be college age and not know what a star was? How could someone be bright enough to get into college and not know what a star was?
*An astronomy class "for non science majors," I might add. I'm no genius myself.