Lockdown Day 48: From Uranus to Venus / Encierro Día 48: Desde Urano a Venus

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

IN AUGUST 1984, SAN GERALDO and I joined his extended family on his father’s side for a get-together at a campground on Flathead Lake in northwest Montana, southwest of Glacier National Park. We drove more than 1,200 miles (1,900 km) from South Dakota to Montana in two vehicles, SG’s father’s pickup truck and his grandparents’ Buick (or maybe it was an Oldsmobile). Along the way, we stopped at the Badlands of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, and so many more amazing places. As you’ll see below, we also ate along the way.

San Geraldo’s father had two brothers, and each brother’s extended family had their own cabin. There were 26 of us in total. SG’s grandparents stayed with us (his parents, and his sisters and their families) in the largest cabin.

One night, SG and I and two others were sitting and playing Trivial Pursuit. The rest of the family, including SG’s grandparents (George and Hazel… oh how I adored George and Hazel) stood around us and watched. It was our turn to answer. Our opponents read the question: “What is the second-largest planet in our solar system?”

I was never much of a science student but I remembered this factoid from my first awe-inspiring childhood visit to the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History on Central Park. “Saturn,” I quietly said to SG while, at the same time, he said to me — not quietly, “How big is Uranus?”

Everyone burst out laughing, including George and Hazel. From somewhere in the background, SG’s sister Leann blurted out, “Well, you should know!”

After the laughter subsided enough for anyone to hear me, I repeated, this time loudly, “Saturn!” We won the night. [Uranus is third.]

Monday night, there was a great view of Venus (not Uranus … or anyone else’s as far as I know). I should have set up our telescope. It’s a birding scope, but I could have aligned my camera through its lens for a decent shot. Instead, I tried to get pictures while zooming in with my hand-held camera. I managed the moon, but Uranus… I mean VENUS… is a mess.

Click the images to enlarge. The moon and Uranus… I mean VENUS… are as big as they’re going to get.


EN AGOSTO DE 1984, SAN Geraldo y yo nos unimos a su extensa familia por parte de su padre para una reunión en un campamento en el lago Flathead en el noroeste de Montana, al suroeste del Parque Nacional Glacier. Conducimos más de 1.900 km (1.100 milas) desde Dakota del Sur a Montana en dos vehículos, el camioneta del padre de SG y el Buick (o tal vez era un Oldsmobile) de sus abuelos. En el camino, nos detuvimos en las Tierras Baldías (Badlands) de Dakota del Sur, el Monte Rushmore (Mount Rushmore), el Parque Nacional de Yellowstone (Yellowstone National Park), y muchos otros lugares increíbles. Como verá a continuación, comimos en el camino también.

El padre de San Geraldo tenía dos hermanos, y la familia extendida de cada hermano tenía su propia cabaña. Éramos 26 en total. Los abuelos de SG se quedaron con nosotros (sus padres, y sus hermanas y sus familias) en la cabaña más grande.

Una noche, SG y yo y otros dos estábamos sentados y jugando Trivial Pursuit. El resto de la familia, incluidos los abuelos de SG (George y Hazel … oh, cómo yo adoraba a George y Hazel) nos rodearon y observaron. Era nuestro turno de responder. Nuestros oponentes leen la pregunta: “¿Cuál es el segundo planeta más grande de nuestro sistema solar?”

Nunca fui un gran estudiante de ciencias, pero recordé este hecho de mi primera visita infantil al Planetario Haydn. “Saturno”, le dije en voz baja a SG mientras, al mismo tiempo, él me dijo, no en voz baja: “¿Qué tan grande es Urano?” (NOTA: En inglés, esa pregunta suena como ¿qué tan grande es tu ano?)

Todos se echaron a reír, incluidos George y Hazel. Desde algún lugar en el fondo, la hermana de SG, Leann, espetó: “¡Bueno, deberías saberlo!”

Después de que la risa se calmó lo suficiente como para que alguien me escuchara, repetí, esta vez en voz alta, “¡Saturno!” Ganamos la noche. [Urano es tercero.]

El lunes por la noche, había una gran vista de Venus (no Urano … ni nadie más que yo sepa). Debería haber instalado nuestro telescopio. Es un telescopio de observación de aves, pero podría haber alineado mi cámara a través de su lente para una foto decente. En cambio, traté de tomar fotos mientras hacía zoom con mi cámara de mano. Logré la luna, pero Urano … quiero decir VENUS … es un desastre.

Haz clic en las imágenes para ampliar. La luna y Urano … quiero decir, VENUS … son tan grandes como se van a poner.


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

36 thoughts on “Lockdown Day 48: From Uranus to Venus / Encierro Día 48: Desde Urano a Venus”

  1. Well….you never did answer the question? So how big is your Uranus?

    And I now know I love you…..I love any incarnation of the song Venus. Was one of my favorite drag numbers.
    Because you know Mitchell…”.Im your Venus….Im your fire at your desire.”

    *struts out of the room*

    1. Mistress Maddie:
      It has a radius of 25,362 km (15759.2162 miles). But it’s still very difficult to reach. Ahem.

  2. Looks like it was a great trip with SG’s family……and they all appreciated a good ‘line’!
    that photo of SG and his mom is so sweet.
    You must have very steady hands to get these pics of the moon and Uranus…..oh I mean Venus!

    1. Jim:
      Seeing that photo again made SG very happy, too. I wouldn’t have thought I’d need a steady to get a shot at your Uranus.

  3. I have been to Flat Head Lake, it is long, I have no idea how big Uranus is.

    1. David:
      Uranus, 15759.2162 km. Flathead Lake, 43.9. Uranus is obviously bigger.

  4. Okay, Scoot, between yours and Maddie’s posts, my twelve year old boy has come out again. He’s beaten my surly bitch depressive into submission for the moment anyhow 🙂 I kind of feel sorry for Uranus, though. Always the butt of planetary jokes. The Rodney Dangerfield of the galaxy. Gets no respect at all.
    Boy that felt good! I’ll stop now 🙂

    1. Deedles:
      What’s odd is I don’t remember ever tittering about the name Uranus when I was a kid. That summer of 1984 during Trivial Pursuits was the first time I ever made the connection. And now listen to ALL of us!

  5. Ha! Good story! That sounds like a great family trip. I’ve been to Glacier but otherwise I’ve never explored that part of the country.

    My attempts to photograph Venus always look like that too.

    1. Steve:
      I’m tempted to set up the scope for these opportunities, but it still wouldn’t be of the right quality. Handheld moon shots remain fun. Thanks to SG’s roots, I got to see a lot of the western half of the country. Before SG, Pennsylvania was as far as I got.

  6. For some decades now, in the U.K. ‘Uranus’ has been almost exclusively pronounced ‘as ‘YOU-rin-us’ with accent on the first syllable. It used to be pronounced as ‘your anus’ [for instance when I was an Astronomy-obsessed boy] and if it still is it’s only in ‘jokes’. I don’t know if outside these isles it’s said with ‘our’ pronunciation or what the correct way of saying the Greek god’s name would be.
    Incidentally, Uranus is not only the smelliest of the planets [which, extending the ‘joke’, is only what one might expect] but is also the coldest, despite not being the one furthest from the sun, the latter title now accorded, of course, to Neptune since Pluto’s ‘demotion’ to a ‘dwarf planet.

    1. Raybeard:
      I’ve read that your-ANUS is now the correct British and American pronunciation. But, originally, the correct pronunciation was YOU-rin-us, as in the name of the Greek deity. The word “harass” was problematic in the ’80s. I had only ever heard it pronounced her-ASS. Suddenly newscasters were pronouncing it HA-riss (exactly like the name Harris). Now apparently, it’s back to her-ASS.

      1. I think what you read has been overtaken. It’s a very long time since I heard the word in serious context pronounced in the ‘joke’ fashion, even if that is still the correct way, in which case maybe it was changed precisely to avoid that effect.
        When younger I’d always known ‘harrass’ to be said as near identical to ‘Harris’, but for the last, perhaps, 50 years an ambivalence has crept in, possibly through increased American influence through TV and films.

      2. Raybeard:
        You’re right. There’s inconsistent info online, but it mostly looks like the more acceptable pronunciation in both the US and the UK is YOUR-a-nus. As for harass, argh, the same newscaster, Dan Rather, who in the ’80s was the first pro I heard pronounce it Harris, a few years later was back to pronouncing her-ASS! And Cambridge online dictionary has Americans still saying her-ASS and British saying Harris. I give up! This is all a pain in the anus.

  7. The old photos are wonderful. Your fondness for striped shirts goes back a long way, I see. And SG’s family is so very lovable. Thanks for this sweet trip.

    1. Wilma:
      I have always loved that particular striped shirt, I think because of Pablo Picasso. He was a hometown boy and maybe that’s why I ended up in Málaga. SG’s immediate family is absolutely lovable. I’m so lucky to have them.

    1. Cheapchick:
      I did actually like that first shot of Venus. The second … wow.

  8. Wonderful moonshot and I have many of the “lighting” shots also.
    Love the look of the older brownish, yellow photos.

    1. Parsnip:
      I still haven’t gotten used to the fact that my photos can be old. But 1984 was a long time ago!

  9. Humanity really does owe a huge debt of gratitude to the planet Uranus for the generations of amusement it has provided us.

    1. Debra:
      Oddly, I never giggled about the name until that Trivial Pursuits game. I must have missed my adolescence… but I’ve been living it ever since!

  10. In French its two words are at least pronounced that way U- ranus. So there is no joke in that one. I hope you blushed with SG said that out loud.

  11. Holy planetoid, Batman! The Uranus jokes write themselves. So I will refrain. The trip sounds, and looks, like loads of fun.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      SG’s grandparents and immediate family were always wonderful. So it was really fun to be together. The drive with the parents and grandparents was… memorable (but we loved them dearly).

    1. Willym:
      I think it was Gandhi who said: “PURILITY of personal life is the one indispensable condition for building up a sound education.“ Oh, wait, maybe that was PURITY.

    1. anne marie:
      I’m trying to act more mature this evening but I just finished with your balls. It’s becoming a weekly habit.

  12. Someone in hindsight should have considered a neutral Greek name would translate into the latin/english anus badly. Too late now. The “Your-in-us” avoidant pronunciation does little help.

    1. Urspo:
      Have I ever told you about the town of Mianus in Southern Connecticut. Yeah, they pronounce MEE-a-nus… as if that stops anyone. Where do you live? MY-anus.

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