vienna: star search

Posted on January 26, 2006


Curiosity kills cats, but not Novalas. For the first time ever I visited a Sternwarte – an observatory and learnt about the birth of a star. Since I was listening to a Dust Astrophysicist please don’t expect me to quote what he said about a bunch of little pieces in space that get involved with gas, glow a while and end up with billions of humans sending it to heaven in a pretty short time – in comparison to the time it needed to develop us. The sun by the way will fade out in 5 million years. “See, I knew it”, the double-income-no-kids-folks say, “that’s why I can’t have kids – imagine their future!”

No matter what – the observatory in Vienna was built by two theater architects.

Sternwarte. (novala)
The biggest telescope at the Sternwarte is pretty – erm – big.
Teleskop. (novala)

See the people in the background? It used to be the biggest in the world for a while. Not for long, though.

Teleskop. (novala)

I had the opportunity to look through it while freezing my butt off in the observation room. And I saw Mars. At least the Dust Astrophysicist said it was Mars. I wouldn’t have assumed that it was Mars. It looked like a small light bulb in the Truman Show to me. So I saw Mars. Or whatever it was. I mean, you can see Mars without a telescope.

Later I saw a book from 1473. Pretty geocentric.

Map. (novala)

What I truly enjoyed the most was the professor – not the Dust Astrophysicist. I don’t remember his name, but his enthusiasm was fantastic. He was glowing with passion for his work and didn’t even get frustrated when s.o. ask: “How do you live with the chance that your work is of no use at all?”

Finding new stars, the professer said, is not a treasury of merits. Everybody can do that. What you have to do is to add 1 and 1 or dust and dust and from observing stars come to the conclusion that our descendants will die because the sun burns out. And that were of use.

Observatory of the University of Vienna [English, German]