Last night, got to do a little bit of long hoped for "astronomy outreach" when I went to the Prince Rupert pub last night. The sky was holding clear, despite the threatening presence of purpley grey clouds in the west as I walked down.
So, in the beer garden, fine pint of Reverend James in hand, I warmed up the crowd - of two - with a discussion about George Adamski, and the Warminster Thing flap of 1964 - 65;
We concluded that it was natural for even the most sceptical sort of folk such as ourselves to be interested in such phenomena, representing as they do a particularly interesting part of folk-culture, and that the changing nature of visitors from space from benign nordic types preaching at us to stop nuclear weapons development; to empathyless grey entities wishing nothing more of us than an endless supply of cavities to violate, shows the nature of our changing relationship with space, and the subconscious collective fears of humankind in the first world.
It was two pint pub talk basically, although I'd only had a half by this point.
Then came the main event. The ISS appeared over the pergola, and made its way over the pub proper, watched by several people as I explained what it was - a space station the size of a football pitch, 200 miles or more above us. These people had never seen it before, and couldn't quite believe the idea it was permanently occupied. A few minutes later, the ATV4 Albert Einstein supply ship followed it, fainter but faster, and I explained the importance of this vessel, an Ariane launched European effort.
Someone insisted it was a helicopter, no matter what I said.
Then it was gone, and the conversation had moved onto the nature of alien life. My job done, I headed back inside for more lovely beer, and a think.
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