The Hubble Blew My Mind

##She Was Hit By… Space Junk

Out here in Hawaii, when there’s a New Moon (like right now) – you can readily see satellites lazily scooting across the night sky. Every now and again you see a really bright one – which I think is the International Space Station. My daughters love this – probably more than knowing the names of the stars – they love to see satellites.

So last night there we are and my daughter asks if we can bring the iPad. Like a typical dad I say “no way! This is raw nature! Technology stays inside!”.

But my daughter preservers: “Dad it will help us find the stars we’re looking for…” and I relent. We use a really cool, location aware, augmented-reality app for the iPad

called Star Walk.
It’s an utterly amazing app and I’ve owned it for years – but mostly we use it as a glorified encyclopedia – I really don’t like bringing it outside for some reason. That changed last night…

##It’s The Hubble

My oldest daughter is swinging the iPad around, watching the stars zoom by on its screen. I keep telling her the real stars are actually above her (which is why I don’t like the thing out there) and she says “I know… I’m just trying to find some fun constellations”.

And then my youngest perks up: “look daddy! It’s a shooting star! I mean a satellite!” I look up, and sure enough, there’s a nice bright satellite going west to east across the clear black sky.

“It’s the Hubble” says my 9 yr. old.

“You’re probably right” I say – “I just wish there was a way we could know for — wait a minute! How did you know that’s the HUBBLE?”

“It’s right here – on the iPad” she says, pointing to a little image of the hubble right on the starfield screen.

I’m completely stunned. I don’t know why I should be – we’re connected to WiFi so why shouldn’t the app know this?

My daughter is looking up at me as if something’s wrong… “No I believe you … it’s just … wow! Don’t you think that’s awesome! We’re sitting here, watching a thing move up there, and it’s moving on the screen down here too!”

As I say this – I realize that I’m not so amazed at the app, at the syncing, and the “knowing of it” – it’s something else entirely. Something my daughter takes for granted.

“Yeah – it’s pretty neat” she says. She’s tickled that she figured it out – but it’s precisely what she has come to expect from the iPad… apparently –

##Just In Time Magic

I thought about this later on. All day as a matter of fact:

what was it about seeing the Hubble on the iPad, and in the sky, that blew me away?

And I think I have an answer – and it’s two-fold:*First – it rarely rarely happens when technology kicks in a bit of information “just in time”. Yes if I set the alarm on my iPhone it will ring – but that’s not “Just In Time” really. This iPad answered a question that we had

*Secondly – and most importantly –

my daughter told me the answer.

  This might sound weird if you don't have kids - but for your kid to know the answer to something you genuinely don't know - that's really special for them.All of this from a little black piece of glass and metal. I know I'll be called a fan-boy for this, but

yes, that was magical.

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