“I have discovered four new planets and observed their motions … Jupiter, like Venus and Mercury and perchance the other known planets, move about the Sun … I shall send to all the philosophers and mathematicians an announcement … I shall send an excellent spyglass (to) verify all these truths.” ~ Galileo
On July 4th, as night fell across the U.S., our attention was turned to the skies above. The Crescenta Valley fireworks show was brilliant; the grand finale was the grandest ever! On the other side of the country, due to an overbooked flight, our sons watched fireworks over the Hudson River. Though their show was beyond spectacular and definitely “a horse of of a different color,” the guys really missed being home. A warm summer rainstorm fell over New York City while clear skies prevailed over the foothills of the Crescenta Valley.
Long into the night, the sounds of fireworks reverberated through the area. I presumed it came from the Rose Bowl. Or perhaps it was the shouts of joy and excitement as “Welcome to Jupiter!” flashed on screens at mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Launched five years ago the Juno spacecraft had completed its journey to our solar system’s largest planet – Jupiter. Perfect timing to coincide with Independence Day. Better yet, although not in NASA’s master plan, it happened within minutes of our local fireworks show. I’m impressed! However, unbeknownst to most of us, the flight was one second off course.
“We just did the hardest thing NASA has ever done,” said Scott Bolton, the Juno mission’s lead investigator. Juno survived a 1.7-billion-mile journey through the asteroid belt, radiation and space debris reaching speeds of 165,000 mph. On board is a plaque with the words of astronomer Galileo and three Lego mini-figures of Galileo and Roman gods Jupiter and Juno. Mythology tells of Jupiter hiding under a veil of clouds; only his wife Juno could see beneath. The spacecraft Juno hopes to do the same in seeking our solar system’s origin.
Fortunately, JPL scientists don’t have to deal with an onshore flow as they study Jupiter. Presently, at our minuscule spot in the solar system, meteorologists keep close watch on the marine layer. Any slight deviation can cause significant temperature change. Today and Friday, valley areas are expected to warm up; the coastal fog and its cooling influence stay at the beach. The weekend forecast invites the marine layer back in once again. Come the new week, summer weather returns. Back and forth we go this time of year. Soon we will only be going only “forth” into summer. No turning back until fall!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.