Last Friday the meeting started a half hour early, so that we could dine with plenty of time for subsequent Pluto discussion.
The evening started with crackers and a cheese ball imprinted with a heart of cheese. We could call that our version of Tombaugh Regio. Some partook in a “Pluto” beer. Actual Uranus (full bottle) and Jupiter beer (empty bottle) from the Bell brewery were also on display. The Pluto-paparazzi snapped a few photos.
The main course of Pluto dogs (fresh Usinger’s wieners from Milwaukee), Pluto-ring jello, potato salad, fruit and other dishes were served on our planetary themed tablecloth with matching plates and napkins.
Overlooking us while we dined in the living room were some photos of Pluto and Charon, the New Horizons probe, our MASS logo, our two MASS group photos and my favorite Disneyworld picture of myself and Pluto.
We then relocated to the family room to take a short CNN quiz on Pluto. Our informed audience of Phil, Keith, Silvio, Dave, Dean and I all scored as official “plutophiles”. Next on the agenda was the “Direct from Pluto” program from the Science Channel. It was very informative and we learned that New Horizons had instruments named ALICE and RALPH (an homage to the Honeymooners TV program), that it contains 1oz of Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes, and we got to see Clyde’s original telescope made with spare farm parts including a dust cover for the lens made from an old Coke can.
Next we watched the highlights of the Pluto press conferences including the one that aired just a couple of hours earlier which showed pictures of polygonal terrain with little dark mounds in the low polygon borders. No one knows what they are just yet.
The last short clip was on the launch of the Apollo-Soyuz mission because its anniversary occurred last week and Dean was able to watch the launch live during his NASA days. The Saturn 1B had an interesting position of the launch pad because it lacks the large first stage booster of the Saturn V. I affectionately call it the “baby’s high chair” because they have to perch the rocket on a 128 foot tall assembly so that all the rocket and Apollo capsule interfaces are at the appropriate heights.
We adjourned after a fun four hours thinking this was fun and we’ll have to do it again. Another new group photo of those in attendance was also taken.