Kilometers cycled: 105
About two years, ago, my friend David from Belgium visited Philadelphia for a weekend. He found me set up on the corner of 4th and South with a pair of binoculars. It was in Philadelphia that he met his first flat-earther "in real life". In the same night, he actually met quite a few more. That night, I was able to show him the moons of Jupiter, the four famous points of light all in a straight line. Tonight, we visit him, and take a trip together to his local observatory a few towns over.
Tonight, another observatory! Grimbergen Volkssterrenwacht is one of Belgium's public observatories. This is an astronomy venture run by three people - their mission is to broadcast science to the public and especially to children. Phillippe is at the door as we arrive, and greets us "These guys look like they come from Philadelphia!"
Phillippe says we are only a few miles away from the largest planetarium in Belgium. It helps to have a planetarium for communicating astronomy, but it also helps to have something different. He shows us a "constellation clock". On this massive circular wheel, the milky way and all the stars visible from Belgium are painted. Each constellation is lit up by a button on an old-fashioned control box. The technology is Thomas Edison: push a button, complete a circuit, and the stars of that constellation will light up. On this wall, there are over 1,200 individual stars drilled into the device, and the stars were chosen to represent as accurately as possible what you can actually see in Belgium under the influence of light pollution.
As we venture upstairs, we pass by a number of murals that help depict the scale of the Solar System and the Universe. If the earth is the size of a baseball, then you can only fit a small fraction of the sun on the wall, from floor to high ceiling.
At the end of the tour, we reach the inner Sanctum, where the other astronomers are hanging out and drinking coffee. One astronomer, Chris, is working at his computer on a Virtual Reality replica of the Apollo 11 mission. You can listen to the radio recordings, sit inside the cockpit, and watch as the rocket orbits the moon and experiences an Earthrise. The entire experience is so detailed, I can't wait until people see it with goggles on!
To end the night, our friend David looks at Jupiter through a 50 cm telescope. I easily notice the red spot, but we are reminded that right now Jupiter sits so low on the horizon that its best secrets are washed out by the atmosphere, and are invisible to any telescope.
David meets the Moon Men in Philadelphia, looks through a Galileo-sized instrument, and then two years later, he sees the same object through a telescope large enough to climb inside.