Friday, August 27, 2010

Spotting Jupiter at 3:30 AM

In our household, bedtime is when Dad reads a story with Kai. No matter what happened during the day, story time is one of my favorite times of the day.

When Kai was very young, Eric Carle books were a staple. As he got older, he really loved the Mr. Men books. We’ve also found some great books at our local public library during our weekly dad-and-son outings. (Perhaps I’ll highlight some when I have more time).

Lately, as I mentioned before, Kai has been really into the solar system. And, his reading preferences reflect that. Each week, on our library visit, we get a book about a different planet.

Last night, we were reading about the planet Jupiter at bedtime. I actually learn a lot from these kid-oriented books. Last night, for instance, I learned that Jupiter is one of the most visible planets in our sky. When I read that part, Kai said that it was most visible at 3:30AM. I didn’t see that in the book, so I’m not sure if he made that up or if he learned that somewhere else.

We finished the book and Kai went to sleep.

The next time I heard him was in the middle of the night. He called for me. I came out into the hallway to see what was up. He told me that it was 3:30 so it was a good time to see Jupiter! I grumbled and told him to go back to bed.

Soon thereafter, he came out again. From experience, I knew that he would not fall asleep again and would keep coming out to call me. I decided to lie down on the extra bed in his bedroom.

After our planetarium visit last weekend, we had hung models of the planets from the ceiling of his room. As I lay on the spare bed, looking up and knowing that I wasn’t going to fall back asleep anytime soon, I saw the model of Jupiter, glowing in the dark.

Kai was right. 3:30 is a great time to see Jupiter.

Addendum (added 9/8/2010)
It turns out that Kai did not make up that 3:30 AM was the best time to see Jupiter, and that it actually was true.

Little did I realize that the Chicago Tribune publishes the best viewing time for all visible planets every day on its weather page. Kai had spotted the information in small print located near the bottom of the page, and remembered it later when it was his bedtime. On that particular day, the best time to see Jupiter in the sky was indeed 3:30 AM.

It’s funny the things you can learn from your kids.

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