Read Every Soul a Star Online

Authors: Wendy Mass

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Every Soul a Star (30 page)

BOOK: Every Soul a Star
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The words I had practiced,
It’s not mine, some kid left it on the bus,
spring to my head. But what comes out of my mouth is, “My dad put him in my crib for me when he left. It’s the only thing he ever gave me. Well, you know, besides life.”

I hold my breath as she gently rests the bunny back in the bag.

“He’s a really special bunny,” she says. “I can tell.”

I don’t say anything for a minute. “Ally?”

“Yeah?”

I take a deep breath and smile. “Wherever you wind up, I wish you clear skies.”

“You too,” she says. And when she hugs me goodbye, she smells like fresh air.

Author’s Note & Further Reading

I’d like to thank my fearless editor, Alvina Ling, and her partner-in-crime, Connie Hsu, for encouraging me to pursue my interests and turn them into books. And a huge thank you goes to my writer-friends Pat Palmer and Betsy Reilly, who stayed up till all hours reading these pages and making them better.

For her help with all things eclipse-related, my deep appreciation goes to Nancy Tuthill. In only twelve years, she chased seven eclipses—from the Sahara Desert to the mountains of Bolivia. Her late husband, Roger (who chased twenty in his day), is a wonderful example of how fulfilling and exciting amateur astronomy can be. His invention of the Solar Skreen allows people around the world to safely view the partial phases of an eclipse.

Dr. Kathy Olkin was kind enough to take time off from working on the New Horizon mission to Pluto (and beyond!) to read an early draft and help with all things planetary. John C. Scala, planetarium director extraordinaire and all-around man-of-the-stars, taught me about the constellations and helped set up my own telescope. Without him, it would have remained an oversized coat hanger. I’d also like to thank the volunteers at the Sterling Hill Mine Observatory in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, for answering my endless questions and for showing me Saturn.

Thank you to the good folks at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), especially volunteers like Rohil Goutam, for teaching me how it works. You, too, can search for intelligent life on other planets by linking your computer to the seti@home program. Sign up at http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/ because hey, you never know.

Even though his planet-finding organization (transitsearch.org) had discovered a new
planet
that day, Dr. Greg Laughlin took the time to help me ensure the accuracy of the portions of this book that dealt with searching for exoplanets. He is a wonderful example of the scientific community’s dedication to sharing their knowledge.

If you don’t move from your chair, once every 300 years you’ll be in the right place to see a total solar eclipse (although you’d have to go outside!). The next one in the mainland United States will occur on August 21, 2017. The path of the eclipse will extend from Oregon all the way across the country to South Carolina. So get up from that chair and go see it.

I also suggest visiting your nearest planetarium and joining a local astronomy group. All over the country astronomers are waiting, their telescopes at the ready, to show you not only the rings of Saturn, but galaxies and nebulae millions of light-years away.

If you are interested in learning more about lucid dreaming, a good place to start is with the books of Dr. Stephen LaBerge. I have him to thank for teaching me how to fly.

Every attempt was made to accurately describe the fictional eclipse at the Moon Shadow Campground. The following are some Internet sources that I found particularly helpful when doing research for this book:

www.skyandtelescope.com

www.space.com

www.eclipsechaser.com

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html

www.astronomy.com

http://worldwidetelescope.org

I couldn’t find anywhere in the book to put the following information, so I’m including it here. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter recorded a message that was sent along with the
Voyager
spacecraft on its way out of our solar system. It will take 40,000 years for
Voyager
to come close enough to another star system for anyone to find it, but hey, you never know. It’s a wonderful message of hope and solidarity:

We cast this message into the cosmos. . . . Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some—perhaps many—may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts
Voyager
and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message: This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are trying to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination and our goodwill in a vast and awesome universe.

I wish you all clear skies.

If you are interested in learning more about the universe, you can find hundreds of wonderful books on astronomy. Some that I recommend:

Astronomy for Dummies
by Stephen P. Maran

Chasing the Shadow
by Joel Harris and Richard Talcott

Cosmos
by Carl Sagan

David Levy’s Guide to Observing and Discovering Comets
by David H. Levy

Deep Sky Companions: The Messier Objects
by Stephen J. O’Meara

Eclipse!: The What, Where, When, Why and How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses
by Philip S. Harrington

Find the Constellations
by H. A. Rey

40 Nights to Knowing the Sky
by Fred Schaaf

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
by Terence Dickinson

Out of This World Astronomy
by John Rhatigan and Rain Newcomb

The Planet Hunters
by Dennis Brindell Fradin

Seeing in the Dark
by Timothy Ferris

See the Stars: Your First Guide to the Night Sky
by Ken Croswell

Sky & Telescope
and
Astronomy
magazines

Stikky Night Skies: Learn 6 Constellations, 4 Stars, a Planet, a Galaxy, and how to Navigate at Night—in One Hour, Guaranteed
by Laurence Holt Staff

Strange Universe
by Bob Berman

Turn Left at Orion: A Hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope—and How to Find Them
by Guy Consolmagno

The Ultimate Guide to the Sky
by John Mosley

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