One of the best things about having a book for sale is getting to talk to people. I told them the stories I learned from my research about Neil Armstrong, and they shared theirs. Here are my six favorite stories:
TALE #1 - This is a small photo of the Saturn V rocket. Each of the nozzles in the center is bigger than me. I could stand inside one and not bump my head.
It took many people in many places to build the Saturn V. Since my book launch I’ve met several people who helped build it, and they were proud of being a part of history.
I talked to a lady whose father worked on the Saturn V rocket in Mexico. She remembered having no phone at home, but her dad still managed to get a call from NASA at work. All these years later she still couldn’t believe the technological power of NASA, and she was still proud of her dad’s contribution to Apollo 11.
Tale #2 – This story begins and ends at Neil’s boyhood home. It’s in the picture above. The plaque, below tells you the story of how Stephen and Viola Armstrong moved Neil, June, and Dean back to Wapak when Neil was 13.
Neil graduated from Wapak’s Blume High School three years later. If you enlarge the signs, you can read a summary of his life from the time he left Wapak to the end of his aviation career.
The first picture is the front side of Benton Street where the Armstrongs lived. The last picture is a shot down the alley behind the house. Now for the story from a Benton Street neighbor. It happened when Neil was an adult, probably before his NASA days. He was flying home to visit his parents and wanted to let them know when he got into Dayton.
Neil didn’t do it in the ordinary way, with a phone call! He would fly over the field behind his parents’ house. The plane would thunder past the houses and shake them, at least that’s how I heard the story. Then Neil would fly south to Dayton and drive an hour home to see his parents.
This is the Gardens. It opened in 1999 in the field behind Benton Street, long after Viola and Stephen moved out to my neighborhood in Oakwood Hills. By 1969 their street was renamed Armstrong Drive.
Looking at the Gardens today it’s still mostly field. A corner of the building is in the picture to the left. Grass, and trees lie beside it! I closed my eyes and imagined Neil flying overhead. I could hear the faint thunder of his plane and feel a slight rumble under my feet. I thought of Neil and smiled. He loved airplanes!
PS- If you’d like to look inside, click on this link to meet Karen Tullis the owner. You’ll even get to peek in her office, once Neil’s bedroom.
TALE #3 . . . a very small story. Today this is Home Stretch. They sell t-shirts, but from 1943 till 2000 it was Brown’s Restaurant. In the 60’s it was one of the few places to eat out in Wapak.
I met a former busboy from Brown’s at a book signing. He asked if I’d ever met Neil. I said no so he told me his story. He was clearing tables one night when he noticed a man who looked like Neil. He asked, and it was. That was the sum total of their conversation.
Neil is known in Wapak, and beyond, as a very private person. He kept a low profile, and that’s exactly what this busboy noticed, and now all these years later he still remembers his small conversation with Neil.
TALE #4 . . . a story about Neil’s dad. This story was told to me by Wapak Mayor Don Wittwer who was part of the team who put the 1969 parade together. I was curious about how they got Bob Hope. He was so famous back then. Don said someone in Wapak knew someone who knew Bob. They made the call, and he came. I guess it’s easy to get Bob Hope when it’s a parade for the first man to set foot onto the moon.
From 1955 - 1962 Neil was a test pilot which was a super dangerous job. Don Wittwer was at a meeting with Neil’s dad Stephen. He noticed Stephen was unusually quiet and tense. Later in the evening Stephen got a phone call. Afterwards he seemed more relaxed, more talkative. Later Don found out Neil had a test flight that day. The call was to say that the flight had gone well. I imagine it wasn’t the first time, or the last that Neil’s parents worried about his safety.
TALE #5 . . . the story of a photograph. I met the photographer who took this picture. I was doing a book signing at Riverside Arts and chatting with him. He asked me to Google ‘Neil Armstrong paper airplane.’ I thought it was an odd request, but it seemed harmless. It was.
This picture came up. It was taken in 1974 by one of Neil’s students at the University of Cincinnati. The man I was talking to was THAT student 40 years ago. He’s still proud of his photo, and of the fact it comes up first on Google.
Here are two links for you . The first is on Pinterest, and it’s just the photo. The second is from the university magazine. It tells you a little about the picture setting and the photographer. He never introduced himself, but he bought a book that I was thrilled to autograph. How often do you meet someone who had Neil as a teacher? Now I’d like to introduce you to Ralph Spitzen, UC graduate, Neil’s student, and Pinterest photographer.
Pinterest Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/d7/c8/c7d7c8ff957cd2bcfa87cffaa79d2d52.jpg
UC Magazine: https://magazine.uc.edu/issues/1011/oncampusyesterday.html
TALE #6 . . . the final story – a salute to Neil from his son and granddaughter. I couldn’t find a picture of Mark or Kali in the parade, but I found this one with the Navy band. Neil spent 3 years as a Navy flier, and it was an important part of his journey to the moon.
I missed the parade, but a Wapak friend told me to google Neil Armstrong’s granddaughter. I did, and I found a video of Kali Armstrong singing the song her dad wrote to honor her grandfather. The link is below.
Under it is another one for First on the Moon. They’re the people who organized a year’s worth of fun for the community. The site has two great videos. The first will give you a taste of what Wapak was like this summer.
The second one is near the bottom. It’s a clip from ‘So You Think You Can Dance.” A hometown boy was on the show, and we all loved listening to their attemps to say our name, Wapakoneta. Enjoy!
Song Link: https://kryptonradio.com/2019/07/17/listen-to-neil-armstrongs-granddaughter-sing-flight-of-fancy/
First on the Moon Link: https://www.firstonthemoon.org
Timeline: Blast-off for a Trip to the Moon
7:45AM – The closeout crew sealed the hatch, and they purged and pressurized the cabin to make it safe for launch. That means the cabin was explosion-free.
8:30 AM - The closeout crew left the launch pad.
9:32 AM – Apollo 11 launched.
9:35 AM - The 1st stage engines shut down and dropped into the ocean.
9:41 AM – The 2nd stage rockets cut-off and fell into the ocean.
9:44 AM – Apollo 11 entered the earth’s orbit.
12:22 PM - After circling the earth 1-1/2 times, they fired the 3rd stage engine sending Columbia on its way to the moon.
12:52 PM – Michael Collins separated Apollo from the 3rd stage rocket. He turned Columbia
(command module) around and parked its nose next to the Eagle (lunar module). The discarded rocket was thrown into an orbit around the sun so it wouldn’t run into Eagle or Columbia.
My source for the dates and times is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11. I converted the time to Eastern Standard, hopefully correctly, to make things easier for you. I didn’t see any events for July 17th or 18th. My guess is that the Apollo astronauts kept Columbia ship-shape, talked to NASA Mission Control in Houston, and monitored conditions aboard their spaceship.
July 19th - 1:22 PM Apollo sailed behind the moon, then fired its engine to begin lunar orbit. They circled the moon 30 more times, and they scanned the surface for the Sea of Tranquility.
July 20th - 8:52 AM - Neil and Buzz climbed into the Eagle and prepared to leave Columbia behind.
1:44 PM – Eagle and Columbia separated. Eagle made a spin so Michael could check to make sure the spaceship wasn’t damaged and that its landing gear was correctly positioned. It was!
As Eagle headed towards the moon, the two astronauts noticed they were passing landmarks 2-3 seconds early. Eagle was moving too fast, and it would land miles west of their target.
Five minutes into the descent and 6000 feet above the moon, about a mile, an alarm went off. It signaled that the computer couldn’t do all its jobs on time so its software postponed a few. Eagle continued downward.
Neil focused again on the landing target – it was covered in boulders. He took partial control of the Eagle. Buzz called out navigation info. At 250 feet Buzz saw a crater in the new landing site. At 100 feet, the fuel supply was dwindling, and they had to land soon. The astronauts had 90 seconds of fuel left before they crashed. Dust was kicking up, and it was hard to see, but Neil used some large rocks to guide him.
A few seconds later a probe hanging from the footpads of the lunar module touched the moon, setting off a light. Neil was supposed to shut down the engine, but he forgot. The NASA engineers were afraid Eagle’s exhaust would cause an explosion. It didn’t! Three seconds later Eagle landed, and Neil shut down the engine. They had only 25 seconds of fuel left.
4:17 PM – A second later, Neil said, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Ground Control said, “Roger, Twan – Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!
Dr. Robert Bryant from NASA sent me the video link below. Neil will take you through the
last 3-1/2 minutes of the moon landing. The screen will split in two. You’ll see what the astronauts saw on their way down. You’ll also see what Google could show us in 2011. https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/documents/moonLanding/https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/documents/moonLanding/
Timeline: Prepping for a Moonwalk
6:47 PM – Buzz radioed NASA for a pre-approved message. He asked listeners to take a moment to think about the landing. Then he asked everyone to give thanks. Buzz did – by taking communion privately.
7:43 PM - Neil and Buzz started getting ready for their moonwalk. On Earth it took 2 hours. On the moon, 3-1/2. Then they depressurized Eagle.
10:39 PM - Eagle’s hatch opened. Neil, in a space suit, struggled to squeeze out the door. Would
you believe the two astronauts had their highest heart rates going in and out of that hatch?
10: 51 PM - Neil climbed down the ladder, but he couldn’t see his feet. Why not? The camera remote control that he wore blocked his view. The shots were grainy, but Neil got them.
10: 56 PM - Neil stepped off the ladder and said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for
mankind.” Neil planned to say ‘a man,’ but either he slurred the words, or the camera did. Recent study says camera static caused the omission.
11:03 PM - Neil collected a soil sample and put it in the pocket of his space suit, in case of
emergency. One of the mission’s key jobs was to figure out what the moon was made of.
11:15 PM - Neil picked up the camera and took a sweeping shot of the moon. Then he put it on a tripod. Buzz climbed down the ladder. His comment, “Magnificent Desolation.”
Then the two astronauts tested the moon’s gravity. It is 1/6 of the Earth’s. Neil said it was easier than their practice sessions on Earth. Two small problems, they felt like they were constantly tipping backwards, and the ground was a little slippery, but the astronauts kept their balance. Loping along was the best way to move, but they had to plan their path 6-7 steps ahead.
Then the astronauts planted the flag in front of the camera. Buzz hoped nothing would go wrong, but the flagpole only went a couple inches into the ground. Buzz was afraid it’d fall over in front of their worldwide audience. He saluted it, and then President Richard Nixon’s voice came on the telephone-radio system. He said it was “the most historic phone call ever made from the White House.” He made a short speech, following the advice of astronaut, Frank Borman.
Then the astronauts had another 30 minutes on the moon. They set up an experiment to measure moonquakes. They also took pictures and
gathered soil samples, but time was flying so they stopped labeling them. Neil was moving so fast, and his metabolic rates were so high, that Mission Control sent him a coded message to slow down.
Their body rates remained low so NASA gave the astronauts 15 more minutes. That first moonwalk was limited in time and distance because NASA didn’t know how much water their bodies would need to control their temperature.
Buzz went back inside the Eagle first. They used a pulley to get their 48 pounds of soil on board. Then Neil reminded Buzz to throw down the memorial
bag. It honored the fallen astronauts from Apollo 1 and Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin. It also included a gold olive branch, and goodwill statements from leaders around the world. Then Neil climbed aboard, and they turned on the LM life support. To lighten liftoff, they threw out the life support backpacks, their moonboots, the empty camera, and some other equipment.
1:11 AM - They closed the hatch, pressurized the LM, and tried to sleep. After 7 hours of rest, at about 8AM, Mission Control in Houston woke the astronauts to get ready to return home. It took
about 2-1/2 hours to get ready. Somewhere in my account or Wikipedia’s, my time is off. It should have been about 10:30 AM.
Also, sometime during that 7 hours, Buzz accidentally bumped and damaged a circuit breaker to the main engine, the one that’d lift them off the moon. Everyone was terrified, but sticking a felt-tip pen in the circuit saved the day.
1:54 PM - The Eagle lifted off, the silver ascent stage only. They left the red descent stage on the
moon. As they left, Buzz caught sight of it being whipped around by their exhaust – then – the flag toppled over.
Next up: the return home.
BTW – this is a famous picture from that 1st moon landing. It is the only picture where you can send both astronauts. Neil took the picture of Buzz in the spacesuit , and Neil is reflected in Buzz’s helmet.
Timeline: Time to return home to Earth
July 20th – 21st - When Eagle left, Michael Collins was alone making solo orbits around the moon. He wasn’t lonely, even though he was out of radio contact every time he passed the far side of the moon. Michael was busy with housekeeping jobs that would get everyone home.
His first was to find Eagle. Michael knew it was about 4 miles off target, but he never found it. He also did maintenance jobs, like dumping extra water the fuel cells made and preparing the cabin for Eagle’s return.
On his third orbit around the Moon, Mission Control warned Michael about the coolant temperature. If it got too cold, parts of Columbia would freeze. They wanted him to switch to manual control and implement procedure 17, but Michael switched to manual and back to automatic again.
Michael did chores and kept an eye on the temperature. By the end of the next orbit, the problem resolved itself. While Neil and Buzz moon-walked, Michael relaxed.
Then he slept. He needed to be ready to rendezvous with Eagle, but he was ready to fly down to get them, just in case.
July 21st - 5:24 PM Eagle and Columbia met each other, and by 5:35 they reconnected. No problems!
7:41 PM Eagle’s silver ascent stage, was jettisoned off to orbit the moon. Eventually its orbit decayed, and it fell to earth. No sorry, to the moon!
July 23rd – the astronauts made one last TV broadcast. Michael thanked the people who built and tested the Saturn 5 rocket. It was an incredibly complicated piece of machinery, and it worked as expected.
Buzz commented that there were more than 3 men on their spaceship. Government and industry helped it fly. Then he read from Psalms to acknowledge God’s role. “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the Moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained; What is man that Thou art mindful of him?”
Neil thanked the American people and government for believing that man could go to the moon. He thanked those who put their hearts, and their talents into the
Saturn rocket. He finished with, “To all the people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11.”
The astronauts were due to splash down on the 24th, but there were a couple problems to solve first. A bearing at the Guam tracking station failed. It would have stopped communication for the last part of the trip. It couldn’t be repaired in time so station
director Charles Force had his 10-year-old son Greg reach inside the housing and pack it full of grease. It worked! Neil sent Greg a thank you.
The next problem, Air Force Captain Hank Brandli had access to top secret spy satellites. They showed a storm front headed to the recovery area. It would make it hard to see Columbia, and winds would shred its parachutes. Two Navy commanders believed him. They put
their careers at risk and convinced NASA to move the recovery area 215 nautical miles to the northeast.
Changing the recovery area also changed Columbia’s flight plan and the sequence of its computer program. The Navy had the Hornet in position.
July 24th – Before dawn the Hornet launched 4 helicopters and 3 tracer planes.
12:44 PM – The helicopters spotted Columbia’s parachutes.
12: 52 PM - Columbia splashed down 1440 nautical miles east of Wake Island. It landed upside down. Navy divers attached flotation collars and a sea anchor. It took 10 minutes to right the capsule. Rafts were launched to get the astronauts.
The divers gave the astronauts biological isolation garments. They rubbed the astronauts down with a bleach solution. After the astronauts and divers were aboard the helicopters, the raft was sunk, on purpose. NASA was worried about moon
germs. They even wiped Columbia down with a disinfectant.
1:53 PM - The helicopter took the astronauts to the Hornet’s hangar bay where they walked into the Mobile Quarantine Facility. That’s where they finished the 21 days of quarantine that began when Eagle and Columbia reconnected in space.
President Nixon was already aboard the Hornet, ready to welcome the astronauts back. He thanked them, “As a result of what you’ve done, the world has never been closer.”
After the president left, Hornet used a crane to lift the 5-ton Columbia space capsule aboard. Then they moved it down beside the astronauts’ quarantine unit.
The Hornet sailed onto Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where the astronauts and their quarantine unit were loaded aboard a cargo plane and flown to Houston.
July 28th - 6AM The astronauts arrived at Houston’s Lunar Receiving Laboratory for their final days of quarantine.
July 30th – Columbia was flown to the Lunar Receiving Lab in Houston after it finished its checkup on Ford Island and Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii.
August 10th - The Interagency Committee met in Atlanta and lifted the quarantine on the 3 astronauts, their physician, engineer and on Columbia itself.
Timeline: Time to Celebrate!
August 13 – This is the ticker-tape parade in New York for Neil, Buzz, and Michael. There was another one in Chicago that day. About six million people attended the two parades.
That night President Nixon held a state dinner in Los Angeles to celebrate Apollo 11. Members of Congress were there, 44 governors, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Vice President, and ambassadors from 83 nations. It must have been dazzling to the astronauts who’d just come out of quarantine.
President Nixon and Vice President Agnew presented each astronaut with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s the picture to the left.
September 6 – Neil came home to Wapak for a parade. I was there! I was 10. I don’t remember the heat, or Neil. Sorry! I remember Bob Hope came, Tricia Nixon Cox (the president’s daughter), the Purdue marching band, and best of all, Purdue’s Golden Girl (she twirled a baton). So did I!
Neil did a speech for kids at the football field, but I don’t think we went. It’s sad – I’m 60, and I see the opportunities I missed. I can’t go back in time and watch, BUT I can write about it for you. Here’s the link for the Wapak parade: https://www.cnbctv18.com/photos/buzz/hometown-of-neil-armstrong-ready-to-celebrate-50th-anniversary-of-moon-landing-3955881-13.htm
September 16 – The astronauts went to Congress. They presented a flag to the House of Representatives, and one to the Senate. Both had been on the Moon.
That was the beginning of a 38-day world tour that took the astronauts to 22 foreign countries. Leaders from many of those countries met the astronauts. Many honored them with medals. Some of Neil’s are in the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. You can see them in the museum’s display case.
September 29th to November 5th – That’s how long the world tour lasted. I can’t imagine the sacrifice the astronauts and their families made. Sometime in July, pre-launch, they gave up their private lives to travel to the moon. They didn’t get them back till early November. That’s a huge price to pay! Maybe that’s why all 3 astronauts left NASA pretty quickly after the tour was over.
In 1970 Michael retired from NASA. He took a job at the Department of State as an Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.
In 1971 Buzz left to become Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.
In 1971 Neil resigned from NASA and accepted a teaching position at the University of Cincinnati. The reason . . . their aerospace engineering department.
This month was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing. The astronauts all moved onto other jobs. Neil died on August 25, 2012. If you see someone wink at the moon in Wapak, you know they’re doing it to honor Neil. He’s still a big deal!
Michael and Buzz are still alive. I saw them on the news with President Trump and Melania honoring this big anniversary. I loved Buzz’s comment. He said something like, it’s a shame we haven’t been back to the moon. I agree.
Here’s to the next space adventure! Have you heard of Artemis? She’s Apollo’s twin sister and the name of NASA’s future missions, first back to the moon and onto Mars.
Late 2019 -- First commercial deliveries/landers to the moon
And that’s how I want to end my posts about the 50th anniversary, with hope for the future. The kids who will be building Orion or riding aboard Artemis missions to the moon, and then onto Mars, they sat in America’s classrooms over the last 10 years. Maybe one of them was a student of mine. I hope so!
This is the crew of Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. Fifty years ago tonight they were somewhere close to Cape Canaveral in Florida, waiting for launch time. I wonder if they were able to go to sleep. I would have been awake all night.
Back in 1969 I was 10. I had no problem sleeping even though Wapakoneta, Ohio was a-twitter with the world watching us. My parents lived a block away from Neil’s parents. It was a huge deal!
This is the run up to the launch date. On May 20 , 1969 the Saturn V rocket started its trip to the moon using that 3.5 -mile crawler-way. The rocket weighed 6000 tons. That’s about the weight of 6000 cars.
The crawler pulled the rocket along at a speed of a mile an hour. That’s pretty fast if you imagine it pulling that stack of 6,000 cars. A Saturn V rocket was HEAVY!
Look below! That’s NASA Mission Control in Houston back in 1969. That’s what NASA engineers looked like, but not their kids, or me. We looked more like the Brady Bunch. That picture’s copyrighted so I’ll share the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brady_Bunch.
I also found the perfect song for 1969. It was the Age of Aquarius! Warning – music videos didn’t launch until 1981, but the song is still great. Enjoy!
The picture to the right was taken 48 years later. I was visiting NASA, and I took pictures of the things I remembered, things I thought you might be interested in. I hadn’t used any of them, till now. I hadn’t started writing NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM, but I had a blog to write.
Below is the link that started this post. ABC News was doing a feature about the 50th anniversary, and part of it featured the restoration of mission control. The only thing missing are those NASA engineers and their crew cuts. Enjoy!
This pair of pictures gives you an idea of the size of the Saturn Rocket and two pieces of the Apollo Space Module. Take a look at that first big black ring near the top of the Saturn Rocket. Everything above it is the Apollo Module that went into space.
Below it are three sets of rockets, three sets of fuel tanks. The bottom two fell into the ocean after their fuel was used up. This link might help you picture these pieces. https://www.dkfindout.com/us/space/moon-landings/saturn-v-rocket/
The top rocket and its fuel tank took Neil, Buzz, and Michael into space. Resource link: https://www.seeker.com/what-happened-to-all-the-saturn-v-rocket-stages-1768231080.html
Look below that black ring again. There are four pieces stacked on top of it. All four pieces went into space. The one on top is the Command Module. The picture beside it was taken in Houston. That module looks like it’s been to space and back. Here’s a link to help you imagine the pieces of the Apollo Capsule: https://www.dkfindout.com/us/space/moon-landings/apollo-spacecraft/
This is another photo from Houston. Do you see the Command Module at the top? That’s where the astronauts spent their time until they returned home again.
The Service Module is below it. It powered the life support systems for the crew. It made electricity to power Apollo. It also held the main rocket engine. It moved Apollo in and out of either the earth’s orbit or the moon’s. Thrusters made smaller adjustments.
Here are two trivia questions for you: Which astronaut got to be the 2nd man to walk on the moon? Which one stayed aboard the command module? Was it Neil, Buzz, or Michael? The answer – Buzz walked on the moon, and Michael kept the Command Modul in orbit so they could all go home.
Here’s question three: Did Michael ever make it to the moon? The answer – No, he didn’t. He retired from NASA a year later in 1970.
This is a model of the Lunar Module. It sat underneath the Service Module (from the picture above) in that huge Saturn V Rocket. The Lunar Module had two pieces. The ascent stage is the silver part on top, and the descent stage is the red part on the bottom.
Neil and Buzz used the red part first to power down to the moon. When they landed, they crawled out, did a little exploring, and then they left the descent module behind. It’s still there, 50 years later, sitting in that same spot on the moon.
The ascent module, the silver part, flew them back up to the Command Module orbiting the moon. It was the only piece of that huge Saturn V rocket that returned to Earth again.
Would you believe that the astronauts took pictures of each other after they separated in space? The first picture is of the Command Module orbiting the moon. It was named Columbia, and Michael Collins was all alone inside.
The picture beside it is the Lunar Module, and it’s heading for the moon. It was named the Eagle, and Neil and Buzz were inside. These are the pictures they took of each other back on July 20th, 1969.
Who orbited the earth first?
Ham the Chimp John Glenn Yuri Gagarin Laika the Dog
Did you guess Laika? I did, and I was right. Laika was the first living creature to orbit the earth. She was launched on November 3, 1957, two years before I was born. Her achievement was also the beginning of the Space Race between the US and the USSR.
Spaceships back then weren’t well built. We have more than 60 years of experience so we build better spaceships now. We even have a space station where people can live for months at a time.
Poor Laika! She only lived a couple hours after launch. This is a model of Sputnik 2. It doesn’t look very comfortable. I hope Laika was treated well before becoming a dog-o-naut. Before that Laika was a stray living in the streets of Moscow. Russian scientists thought a stray dog would have an easier time living in the harsh conditions in space. If you visit Star City, Russia, you’ll find a statue and plaque that honors Laika and her contributions to space science. Her statue is next door to where she trained for her space adventure and where Russian cosmonauts still train today.
Now, can you guess who was 2nd to orbit the earth?
Ham or John or Yuri
I hope you guessed Ham. He won 2nd place, but only by a couple months. Ham was born in Cameroon in 1957, captured by trappers, and sent to a Rare Bird Farm in Florida. Really! The US Air Force bought him in 1959. He and 39 other chimps were sent to the Holloman Air Force Base. Ham made the top 18, then the top 6, then 1st prize. Back in 1959 he was known as #65 because the air force didn’t want a chimp, with a name, dying in space.
Ham blasted off January 31, 1961 and returned 17 minutes later. I was almost 2 by then. The biggest difference between Ham’s flight and those of previous chimps was his ability to push levers. Ham was a fraction of a second slower in space than on earth. That was a big deal because he showed scientists that astronauts could work in space. Ham’s flight led to the launch of the first American astronaut. Alan Shepherd blasted off May 5, 1961. Thanks, Ham!
Best of all, Ham lived to tell, another 22 years, first at the National Zoo in Washington DC, then at a zoo in North Carolina. If you’d like to visit Ham, go to the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
So, who was 3rd? Was it John Glenn, the American?
Or was it Yuri Gagaran, the Russian? Good Luck!
Yuri came in 3rd. He orbited the Earth on April 12, 1961 in Vostok 1. He instantly became a world-wide celebrity, winning both medals and titles. Yuri never made it back into space again. He died in 1968 when his training jet crashed. It was only 7 years after his historic flight.
I didn’t know that in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin honored Yuri. They left a memorial satchel with Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov’s medals on the moon. In 1971 David Scott and James Irwin from Apollo 15 left the Fallen Angel Memorial behind. They didn’t tell anyone until they returned to earth.
This is the Fallen Angel Memorial. It honors 14 American and Russian astronauts.
Theodore C. Freeman - 1964 aircraft accident
Charles A. Bassett III and Elliott M. See Jr. - 1966 aircraft accident
Virgil I. Grissom, Roger B. Chaffee, and Edward H. White II - 1967 Apollo 1 fire
Vladimir M. Komarov - 1967 Soyuz I re-entry parachute failure
Edward G. Givens Jr. - 1967 car accident
Cliffton C. Williams Jr - 1967 aircraft accident
Yuri Gagarin - 1968 aircraft accident
Pavel I Belyayev - 1970 illness
Georgily T Dobrovolsky, Viktor I. Patsayev, and Vladislav N Volkov – 1971 Soyuz 11 re-entry pressurization failure
And, last but not least, John Glenn. Sometimes it’s good to be last . . . John lived to the age of 95.
Meet John Glenn, the 4th to orbit the earth, but the first American. John was ready to go in January of 1962, but his flight was delayed 11 times because of equipment malfunctions, improvements, and the weather. John didn’t worry. He flew 70 more missions in the simulator and reacted to 189 simulation system failures. John was ready to go!
Finally on February 20, 1962, Friendship 7 lifted off. Would you believe there were two failures during the flight? The automatic control system had problems. John had to manually control the 2nd and 3rd orbit and the reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. Sensors also said that the heat shield was loose. John talked with the ground controllers at NASA. They decided to leave a retrorocket pack in place, and John lived to tell. If the shield had been loose, Friendship 7 would have burned up on the way into the atmosphere, but John returned a national hero. He got a ticker tape parade in New York City. Confetti rained down on John to celebrate his 4 hour and 55-minute flight.
John was such a hero he wasn’t allowed to go up into space again. After he retired from the military, John got interested in politics. He served Ohio in the United States Senate from 1974 until 1999. He ran for president once but didn’t win the Democratic nomination.
But he was successful in returning to space. In 1995 John read a book by NASA doctors about bone and muscle mass loss in space. That happens to older people too so John started lobbying NASA to let him return to space. He said they could experiment on him. NASA agreed, but John had to have a scientific reason to go, and he had to pass the same physical exam that the younger astronauts did.
John did the research and passed the exam. In January of 1998 John got the announcement that at 77, he’d be the oldest person to fly in space. On October 29, 1998 John blasted off as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery. In 2012 John said his biggest regret was that NASA didn’t continue to research aging by sending additional senior citizens into space.
John died on December 8, 2016. The phrase, “Godspeed, John Glenn,” was given to him by Scott Carpenter back in 1962. It followed him through his life and was part of his funeral too. When John died, he was the last of the Mercury Seven Astronauts. They were NASA’s founding space team.
Here are the Mercury 7 from their photo taken on April 9, 1959. That was a month before I was born.
Front row, left to right: Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter;
Back row, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.
I'm starting with a map to show you where the ship was supposed to go on Sunday after we left Cienfuegos, and where the ship actually went. We were supposed to spend a day sailing west around Cuba, and then head east towards Havana.
That didn't happen! Hurricane Michael had already popped up on the western end of Cuba. When there’s a hurricane, a captain takes his ship out to sea away from the storm. So instead of going west Sunday night, our captain took us south toward the Cayman Islands. Not all the way there, but far enough to avoid high seas.
Here’s what the weather map looked like Monday night. I found this after I got home to Ohio. Michael was a Category 1 storm with winds of 74-95 mph (miles per hour). That’s faster than your parents drive down interstate.
Michael was sitting where we were supposed to go, but I’m glad we didn’t go. His Category 1 waves were big enough for me. By Wednesday when Michael moved north to the Gulf Coast of Florida, he was a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111-129 mph. That's hide in the basement fast! Y-I-K-E-S!!!
Sometime Tuesday the captain started sailing west on our original course to Havana. We were supposed to get there Tuesday morning, but we made it off the ship by 5PM Tuesday night. That gave us a little time to explore that night, then on Wednesday we had till 5PM. Not as much time in Havana as scheduled, but enough to time to meet and love Havana. Enough time to want to return again.
I took these pictures on Monday from the deck on the 6th floor. The ship was rocking and rolling, literally! The waves don’t look too bad, but they’re higher than they look…15-19 feet tall. The wind was blowing, about 20-30 knots. Not sure what those numbers mean? Wait for it…I’ll explain the numbers like I did back in the day when I was a 2nd grade teacher.
Why pinball? I told you the ship was rocking and rolling, but no one could walk, unless wobbling counts. I felt like I was a pinball bouncing back and forth across the passage. It was the oddest feeling. I didn’t fall over, but I didn’t wind up walking where I’d planned. The rocking sent us from one side of the hallway to the other.
Do you know what’s hanging from the rail in the 2nd picture? Yes, ‘barf’ bags! I prefer sick bags! I was blessed…I enjoyed the out-of-control sensation. I’m a retired teacher, and I prefer to be in control. This is one of the few situations where I had no control, so I decided to enjoy.
Plus as a writer, I got to ‘enjoy’ storm force wind and waves. We don’t have that in Ohio. And someone from California told me it was like an earthquake, just a lot longer. An earthquake is only about 30 seconds. We don’t have those in Ohio either. I think it’s fabulous that I got to experience a stormy sea and hyper-extended earthquake, and I didn’t have to pay a dime for the extra experience.
Remember the wind blowing 20-30 knots? I didn’t know what that meant. This link help me…
That’s about 23-34.5 mph, the speed your mom or dad drives in town, or on the edges of town. Not super fast.
If you’re wondering why an elephant’s here, it’s because my second graders had trouble figure out what measurements really mean. This is an African elephant. If you measure one from its shoulder to its toe, it’s about 8 to 13 feet tall.
Look at the side chart, it’s in meters. If a wave is 15- 20 feet tall, it’s 4.5-6 meters tall. If you don’t want to check my math, here’s a link to help you… https://www.calculateme.com/length/feet/to-meters/
Here’s another way to think of 15 feet. Take a look at your mom. I’m a mom, and I’m 5’5”. If I wanted to stand as tall as that wave, it would take 3 of me/your mom. 4 to be 20 feet tall.
A final way to look a 15 feet is to look at a classroom. In my last room, each block was 1 square foot. Walk 15 blocks forward and look back. That’s what 15 feet looks like. In my classroom, it was half my room. That’s big!
My husband found this shot on his phone. He wanted to get rid of it, and I can’t believe how happy I am to see these. It’s like pulling up great memories. I spent almost 10 years in this room. Good times!
PS- I think I'll take a travel break and take a trip down Memory Lane before I head to Havana Na Na Na!
When you look at a mountain, do you think volcano? Me, never! But if you lived in Guatemala, you might…The 2nd picture's an ad for a trio of volcanoes that you can hike, if you travel to Guatemala. They're known as The Central Highlands Trilogy. One is Agua (water), another’s Fuego (fire), and the third's Acatenango. Why, I don't know! You can hike all 3 volcanoes, 26 miles in 36 hours. Me, no thanks! That’s too much walking!
When you look at these volcanoes, do you wonder what stage they’re in…active, dormant, or extinct? When I look at them, I want to say dormant or extinct, and 2 of them are…but one’s active. Can you guess which one…Fuego? I’d never, ever, hike anywhere near it!
Below are 2 maps of Guatemala. It’s in Central America. That’s the land that connects North and South America. I picked the 1st map because it shows where Guatemala is, next door to Mexico. Do you see the red triangle? It’s my favorite active volcano, Fuego.
I picked the 2nd map because it shows Guatemala’s major volcanoes. Can you find the 3 we could hike together, Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango? I’d be happy to use a map to find them. I might take a walk around them, but not a 36 hour hike. No thanks!
The pictures below are beautiful, but deadly. That’s because the volcano is awake. How can you tell? Steam. Mountains don’t steam...volcanoes do.
An eruption starts with magma flowing deep underground. That flow starts earthquakes that make fissures, cracks in the earth. Then the volcano spews steam, carbon dioxide, sulfur, and other poisonous gases. It’s pretty, but dangerous.
Can you see the fissures on Fuego? Magma’s lighting them up in the first picture. Ash and dust blew out in the second one. How hot is that magma? Ready, 1300-2400 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 1000 degrees hotter than boiling water. Ouch!
Fuego is literally building up steam, but not like a rain cloud. That’s a pyroclastic flow of hot gas and rock. At 450 mph you can’t outrun it, and its temperature is 1830 degrees Fahrenheit. Double ouch!
The second picture was taken at night, but that’s not fire. It’s hot magma, lava. Can you imagine being hit by a bit of lava, ash, or rock? I read about someone was struck by a piece…it burned right through their leg and broke the bone. Triple ouch!
If you are anywhere near an active volcano like Fuego, you’d want some kind of head gear to help you breath good air, not air poisoned by volcanic gases. It’ll kill you first. You’ll also find yourself surrounded by ash, like in the second picture shows. Would you want to walk across it? Me, no thanks! I see red in that picture, and it’s probably red hot lava. YIKES!!!
These 2 pictures are post-eruption. In the first nothing’s left, except a burned-up tree. Can you imagine returning home to find this? Awful! And when you return, you’re going to spend time each day sweeping away ash because you’re still under an ash advisory.
The picture below shows the ash that’s still erupting. It’s from my last source. You can check it anytime to see what’s happening with the volcano
Fuego volcano Volcanic Ash Advisory: RPRTS OF VA EM
Thu, 28 Jun 2018, 16:15
Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Washington (VAAC) issued the following report: ...more [read all]
Fuego is not the only active volcano right now. Look at the map to see what’s happening on the big island of Hawaii. It has two volcanes but only Kilauea is active. It erupted Thursday, May 17th, throwing an ash plume 30,000 feet above the island. Wow, that’s 5.68 miles above the earth. Incredible!
Volcanoes are a force of nature. They can make ash go airbourne, or create new land, like in the middle picture. I can’t believe people are actually standing on that lava cliff. I see red, and that means hot lava to me. Ouch! Magma is also beautiful! That’s why I picked the last picture.
Here’s the latest notice on Kilauea:
(BIVN) – The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has issued a new Volcanic Activity Notice that changes the current Aviation Color Code for Kīlauea from RED to ORANGE. The current Volcano Alert Level remains at WARNING.
One of my daughter’s friends, Kayla commented on this post saying, “Such a tragedy for the Guatemalans and Hawaiians. I remember hiking at the Pacaya volcano almost one year before Fuego’s eruption “ I asked if she had any pictures to share, and she sent these, taken before the eruption. I’m glad I can share them with you!
Look at those clouds! I’m glad Kayla had good air for her trip!
Look at the dirt. It looks like volcanic ash to me. And the town, I wonder how much they’ve ash swept away since last year.
1. What's the main idea?
2. As you read, name the 4 hurricanes, in order.
3. Why aren’t hurricanes K and L in this post?
Answers are at the end of this post.
This was Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 25th. (Post: 9/12/17) It was the first in a series of hurricanes that hit the US last fall. On Sept. 6th Irma blew through the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida. Jose threatened the Caribbean but never showed up. Thank goodness!
On Sept. 22nd Maria appeared. Look at the picture below. That’s what Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands looked like after Hurricanes Maria and Irma. (Post: 10/21/17)
This picture was taken mid-October. I was so surprised. Now, not so much. I just visited Houston where Harvey rained for 5 long days. You can’t see the damage outside, but inside people are still rebuilding their homes.
I hope the USVI is recovering like Houston, but it’s harder. Building materials/new supplies come in by boat. It’s more expensive and takes longer. In November I decided to adopt a classroom. I wanted to help another teacher, another classroom.
In December I opened my email and found this:
Congratulations! You've been matched with...
School Name and Address: Lockhart Elementary School, St. Thomas
Mailing Address: P.O. Box XXX, St. Thomas, VI 00801
Teacher's Name: Ms. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Grade Level: 1st Grade
Number of Students: 21
Primary Needs: Dry erase board markers, File Folders, Printer paper & ink, Tape, Construction paper, Crayons, Glue, Hand soap, Hand sanitizer, Disinfectant wipes, Healthy snacks, Broom & dust pan, Bottled water
Message to Adopter: Thank you!
Next step, shopping! By January I had everything on their list. I boxed it and mailed it to the US Virgin Islands. Amazon sent the things I couldn’t, like bottled water and ink.
On Jan. 22nd I got an email saying everything arrived, and this picture. What a great looking class! Their happiness makes me happy too.
But I was also sad. I learned half the kids moved away over Christmas vacation, off the island to new schools in new places. I can’t imagine losing half my class over Christmas vacation. These kids survived so much, 2 hurricanes, putting their homes back together again, and now losing classmates. They’re my heroes, and it makes me happy to do something for them. So…
To Lockhart first graders,
Thank you for letting me help you! I had a ball shopping for you. I hope you have a wonderful finish to your school year. You deserve it!
All the best,
Update on an Update
1. What’s the main idea?
Ex: The main idea is to update the reader about what has happened in the US Virgin Islands since the fall hurricanes.
2. As you read, name the 4 hurricanes, in order.
Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria
3. Why aren’t hurricanes K and L in this post?
Ex: They didn’t affect Texas, Florida, or the US Virgin islands.
1. What is the author’s purpose?
2. What is the worst thing that happened to me? Defend your answer.
3. What is something bad that happened to you, that turned out for the best?
Answers are at the end of this post.
This is what my lake house usually looks like…peaceful…quiet…heaven. But things can change quickly, and they did Saturday, November 18th, the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
I was at the lake, watching the OSU/Illinois game. The Buckeyes were ahead 38-0 at halftime. The weather in both places was beautiful. Then 3rd quarter hit, and Columbus weather turned terrible. Driving rain, the kind that soaks you in 2 seconds. YUCK! I was glad to be in warm, sunny Tennessee!
But two hours later, the front and its pouring rain hit Tennessee. It was too dark to watch the storm, and the TV and internet stopped, started, then died for good. I gave up and went to bed, but before I could fall asleep, I heard a noise. I usually don’t go out in the dark, in a rainstorm, but I peeked out the door. The first 2 pictures show what I saw in the dark.
Look at that last picture again. You don’t see the chairs because they were to the left of the grill. When I looked in the dark, the deck caught the chairs and a grey strip. That strip belongs to our patio door. It could have blown anywhere, been miles away, and I would never have found it. Thank goodness for a great catch!
After I found the chairs, I started looking for the grill. It’d blown down the steps and landed by the trees. I decided I couldn’t do anything in the dark. Everything could wait till tomorrow.
Usually things look better in the morning. Not this time! Sunday morning I looked closer and took pictures for my husband. I thought the grill landed upright. Not! It was on its side, gas tank and doors knocked loose, laying off to the side.
That’s also when I looked up the path that runs beside the house. I discovered what happened to my cable and internet, and I knew that it wasn’t coming back anytime soon. Look below…you’ll see what I saw.
A huge log, I thought, was leaning on my roof. Do you see the other one on the ground? Both of them were dead trees. They were standing behind that thicket of bushes. My husband thought he’d gotten rid of all the dead trees. Not! The storm knocked these two loose. One fell harmlessly to the ground. The other hit the roof and knocked out my internet and TV. Boy, did I miss them!
Do you see the Hughes Net dish? It’s bent in two. The Direct TV dish is bent, but not as badly. I know wind is a powerful force, but it’s usually powerful somewhere else. This time it hit in my back yard when I was alone, all by myself. Can you imagine yanking those 2 tree trunks out of the ground and tossing them around like sticks? Or the power to bounce a tree around on the roof? I’m glad I didn’t see it.
This wasn’t a hurricane or tornado, just wind. Amazing! My husband wondered if we had a mini-tornado with the chairs and grill blowing one way, and the tree trunks blowing the other. Tornado, I don’t know. I didn’t hear anything except rain. No wind, no grill hitting the ground, no tree hitting the roof, and I am so glad!
After looking at my pictures, my husband decided to head south and see for himself. We cancelled our Ohio Thanksgiving. No family, no Thanksgiving turkey, no fixings. It sounds like everything went wrong, completely wrong, but it didn’t. It went right, in a completely different, and unexpected way.
Instead we had our first Thanksgiving at the lake. It was simple, grilled chicken and roasted yam slices, and we didn’t over-eat. A very good thing!
We didn’t have a feast to prepare for, or to clean up after. We did the things we love to do. I wrote and enjoyed my lake view. I’m a city girl.
My husband, country boy and project engineer, enjoyed his yard. He’s been reclaiming it from the woods for over 2 years. See the lake view? When we moved in, you couldn’t see it for all the trees. Remember the two tree trunks? He burned them in the picture above, but he was just getting warmed up, LOL
He scrounged around and found more branches and brush to burn, but they didn’t burn fast enough so he made his own blast furnace. It worked! Can you see the difference between the 2 fires? Wayne channeled his inner Bill Nye science guy/Tim Allen. He made his own blast furnace with the leaf blower. Then he pulled me outside to teach the teacher. He demonstrated how the blower,(red handle) fed in oxygen to feed the fire.
So when life goes wrong, look around and find what’s right. We did! We enjoyed Thanksgiving at the lake and time together. It’s lovely when all’s well that ends well!
When What Goes Wrong, Turns Out to be Quite Right
1. What is the author’s purpose?
My author’s purpose was to persuade you that when things go wrong, sometimes it’s for the best. .
2. What is the worst thing that happened to me? Defend your answer.
Example: The worst thing was no TV. I missed the noise of TV and watching my favorite shows.
3. What is something bad that happened to you, that turned out for the best?
Example: When I missed the bus, mom drove me to school and picked up hot chocolate for me. Yum!
These pictures are especially important to me. Some were taken by family in Texas facing Harvey . Some were taken by family after Irma hit the US Virgin Islands. I got permission before putting them on here.
Facing Down a Hurricane Questions. Answers either Harvey or Irma.
1. I was the first hurricane time-wise, and alphabetically.
2. I was the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Caribbean.
3. I hung around raining for days.
4. Flooding was my worst effect.
5. I did so much damage that for the first time in 300 years, no one can live where I went over.
6. My damage is causing problems because another hurricane is coming.
See bottom for correct answers.
On Friday the 25th Hurricane Harvey made land in Corpus Christi, Texas. On Saturday he should have disappeared, but not Harvey. He was a record-setting hurricane.
The maps above and below show how he did it. Harvey kept his backside spinning over water. It fed him and kept him alive.
But when his front side made land, he slowed down. Harvey circled Houston for 5 days before leaving town Wednesday, August 30th.
Can you imagine 5 straight days of rain? Houston wants to forget. Usually it rains 50 inches a year, but Harvey did it in just 5 days.
These are from my son and daughter-in-law’s house. They don’t live on a river. That’s their street. The rain tried to come in from Saturday night till Sunday morning.
The Texas Beaches stayed up all night watching it, just in case. They put down a tarp, sandbags, and a few rocks. They jammed towels between the two entry doors. It worked! The towels were soaked, but the water stayed outside.
The rain finally stopped on Tuesday and drained away. My Texans had 6 straight days of rain. I forgot that rain arrives before the hurricane. My kids were so lucky! Towels and tarps don’t work when your neighborhood gets hit with 50 inches.
The first picture is from Sept. 1st. That’s when our Texas cousins posted a picture of their parents’ house on gofundme.com. It was just 2 days after Harvey left Houston. This was all these grandparents could see of their home. Now they’re staying with family until repairs can be done. They can’t even get inside to see what survived. Can you imagine?
The 2nd picture is from Sept.9th when they finally go inside their home. But where there are hardships, there are also blessings. Friends, church friends, and family came in and worked. They wore boots, gloves, and masks. It was the only way to work safely. A neighbor saw them and brought in food. Sometimes the worst of times bring out the best in people.
These 2 pictures were taken on the 14th. A lot was done on the inside. It’s laying outside, ready to be pitched. It can’t be saved because of mold and muck. I can’t imagine how difficult this would be. A lifetime of things to say goodbye too. It’s heartbreaking.
Now, finally, it’s time to start again, to rebuild. Thanks to gofundme and 60 generous people, our cousin’s family raised 80% of their goal. 20% to go! If you’d like to help, message me. There are also so many other families in need, in Texas and now in Florida. Charities like The Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, or your local church will ensure your contributions go to the families who need it. It’s a good feeling to know that you helped someone
After Harvey, I didn’t want to see another hurricane, but Irma covered TV like she covered the Caribbean. Her Sept. 6th headline read, ‘the most powerful hurricane in recorded history smashes into tiny Caribbean islands.’ Compare the two maps, and you’ll see why. She hovered over every island east of Puerto Rico and smashed them to bits.
Irma was a Category 5 hurricane with winds of over 185. With wind and water, she was devastating. This headline says it all, ‘for the first time in 300 years, there is no one living on the island of Barbuda.’ Imagine, no one, not a soul living in your hometown. It’s a ghost town. The pictures below show you why. St. Thomas was hit later, but Barbuda took Irma’s 2nd hit. It hurts to imagine anything worse.
These are from my cousin’s daughter. She lives on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Usually it’s paradise, but not any more. In time it will be again.
Can you imagine the power you’d need to throw a boat or a car around? A Cat 5 hurricane does it with a few blasts of wind.
Her pictures are from September 8th, when I decided to write this post. They show a small part of St. Thomas’. The island’s hospital was destroyed, its airport looked like a war zone, 80% of the island was demolished, 40,000 people were homeless, and no power for 6 – 12 months. I can’t imagine. How awful for a place that was heaven, a mere month ago.
Since the 8th, Hurricane Jose, a Cat 4 storm, threatened the island. Large scale evacuation by ferry was impossible with storm debris and sea conditions. Private charter boats pitched in to take half the 4500 residents to safety.
Jose gave the islands a break and passed to the north, but now Maria’s threatening. On Wednesday the 20th, she’s supposed to hit as a Cat 3. My cousin just wrote, “Preparing to lose everything, for the 2nd time in 2 weeks.” I hope not. For her sake and for St. Thomas’, I pray that Maria will follow Jose’s path and head north, out to sea.
Destruction like this doesn’t disappear overnight. It takes time and money to rebuild. I hope this post will give you an opportunity to look around to see how you can help. Maybe it’s a donation. Maybe a prayer. Those who faced the hurricanes will be grateful for your help.
Harvey or Irma?
1. I was the first hurricane time-wise, and alphabetically. Harvey
2. I was the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Caribbean. Irma
3. I hung around raining for days. Harvey
4. Flooding was my worst effect. Harvey
5. I did so much damage that for the first time in 300 years, no one can live where I went over. Irma
6. My damage is causing problems because another hurricane is coming. Irma
Q & A
1. What are the 5 signs that totality is approaching?
2. When is the next solar eclipse? How old will you be?
3. What is the main idea? Give 2 supporting details.
Look familiar? This is the path a solar eclipse takes from start to finish.
The sun starts on the left side of this diagram. In the next 5 pictures, the moon moves across the sun until it reaches totality, or full eclipse, in the 7th picture. In the last 6 pictures, the sun and moon move back into their regular orbits.
If you could view an eclipse from space, and could connect the dots, this is what it would look like.
Find the white lines that touch the earth. If you were standing anywhere between them, you’d get to see part of the eclipse.
But, if you were standing at the end of the black cone, you’d see the whole entire eclipse from start to finish, the entire totality. Lucky you!
This is the Great American Eclipse’s map of totality. You can follow the 3 lines from Oregon to South Carolina. I was close in Lafollette, Tennessee, but we drove 90 minutes southwest to Sweetwater. It was our sweet spot, and totally worth the drive!
Want to know what time the eclipse starts? Google it! I found a chart that takes you from Oregon to South Carolina, but it didn’t have Sweetwater, so I googled again. In Sweetwater the eclipse started at 1:04. Totality at 2:32. We saw 2 minutes and 33 seconds of totality. Their site said so!
The first picture is totality. Did you know that one minute before totality, the sun starts giving you signs that it’s almost time? I didn’t. The second picture shows that first sign, shadow bands. The earth’s atmosphere refracts the last rays of the sun. Refracting bends the light, like with a rainbow. If you want to see shadow bands, look at something white or light colored. We watched a white truck in the parking lot. My husband spotted them first, of course!
Do you think the first picture looks like a diamond ring? Scientists did! It’s the 2nd sign, and it happens about 10-15 seconds before totality. The ring is the sun’s corona. The diamond is the last burst of sunlight. I think it looks like the 6th picture, right before totality.
When the diamond fades, the corona’s left. It’s the sun’s outer layer of atmosphere. The sun’s surface is 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit, but the corona is 200-300 degrees hotter. Water boils and becomes steam at 180 degrees. Can you imagine how hot the sun is? YIKES!!!
Do you see the tiny beads of light in the 1st picture? The diagram calls them Baily’s Beads. They show up 5 seconds before totality. I missed them, but my husband saw them, of course. Baily’s Beads aren’t real beads. During an eclipse, the sunlight travels through the moon’s mountains and valleys. From earth the light looks like beads.
See the red ring again? It’s called the chromosphere, and it’s the middle layer of the sun’s atmosphere. You see it just a few seconds before totality. Then the other 2 layers of the sun’s atmosphere make it disappear once more.
After 90 minutes the moon made the sun disappear. It also made Sweetwater colder and darker. At 2:30 in the afternoon a few stars came out. Finally! Totality! It was incredible! The whole town cheered, including hundreds of visitors. Google Sweetwater, and you can see and hear us.
We also took off the special eclipse glasses. Totality is the only time you can look at an eclipse without them. Before , and after totality, we wore them.
Outside the totality zone, you didn’t see stars in the middle of the day, and you couldn’t take off the glasses, at all. I’m glad we made the drive. Totally!
With totality over, the stars disappeared, and the signs reappeared, but in reverse order. First Bailey’s Beads, then the Diamond Ring, the Corona, and finally the Shadow Bands.
When the 1st Diamond Ring appeared, we were on the 6th picture of the diagram. Within 4-5 minutes of time, we were on the 2nd Diamond Ring and the 7th picture.
My family stayed to watch for a few more minutes as the moon kept moving away from the sun. Then we left. I’m glad we did! The roads back to the Lafollette were packed, even when we got off interstate and onto back roads. When totality was over, it seemed like everyone in Tennessee was leaving Sweetwater.
Looking back at the Great American Eclipse, just 10 days ago, I am so glad we drove to totality, and that I can share it with you. If you weren’t in the zone this time, you’ll have another chance, in only 7 years. Mark your calendar! The next one is coming to a state near you on April 8, 2024. Be there or be square!
My biggest source for this post is this link. My husband found it and printed out a packet. Without this source, we would have missed things like shadow bands. Thanks to the folks at timeanddate.com for teaching the teacher, and the engineer!
Q & A
1. What are the 5 signs that totality is approaching?
Shadow bands, diamond ring, corona. Baily’s Beads, and chromosphere
2. When is the next solar eclipse? How old will you be?
April 8, 2024, and you’ll have to do your own math
3. What is the main idea? Give 2 supporting details.
Main: It’s about the how the great American Eclipse of 2017 came in and out of totality.
Supporting detail: The sun goes through 5 stages in the last minute before Totality.
Not a supporting detail: I watched totality in Sweetwater, TN.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!