Thursday, May 28, 2009
Geography lessons old and new
In my day, we learned geography the old-fashioned way. For example, if I wanted to know more about the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez or Sea of Cortés; locally known in the Spanish language as Mar de Cortés or Mar Bermejo or Golfo de California), the body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland, I might read an article in an encyclopedia or study a map like this one:
Today, thanks to the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, students can see the real thing.
We’ve come a long way, baby.
Here’s another bit of geography no one ever taught me in school:
Give up? The fine print says it’s a photo of NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Hubble Telescope seen in silhouette side by side in solar transit on May 13, 2009. That means the big yellow blob in the background is the sun, 93,000,000 miles away. The photo was taken from Vero Beach, Florida, on May 13, 2009. Atlantis and Hubble are at an altitude of 375 miles (600 km)above the surface of the earth; they zipped across the sun in 0.8 seconds. Click on the photo to get a closer view.
I repeat, we’ve come a long way, baby.