It’s past 3 am and we’re observing asteroids with the Arecibo planetary radar system. In the lulls between experiments, Twitter conversations covered everything from the Russian bolide explosion, 2012 DA14, Toutatis, rain on Titan, and some jokes about sailing on Saturn’s largest moon. The sky is falling, what else will you talk about?
Who would run the Titan sailing expedition? I suggested myself and nominated Sarah as admiral; an aeronomer offered to be railmeat. Cracks about how we’d all be “squidbate” went back and forth. Brian christened our ship “The Calamari”. Alex designed a mission badge.
Before I knew it, Justin “@UrbanAstroNYC” Starr had turned the whole conversation into a meme.
My grandfather Bill Littlejohn used to animate Peanuts; he would have been 99 this year. An animator, union organizer, test pilot, and airplane designer, his long and varied career reminds me that it’s okay that mine is taking a variety of twists and turns through technical and creative pursuits. Bill grew up in a sailing family, and a few of his hand-illustrated birthday cards that he’d mail or fax every year involved sailboats and depictions of me with short brown hair.
Thank you, Grandpa, for all you created and gave; you’re living on as we continue to explore the cosmos.