So the whole family dropped off to sleep at around four in the afternoon yesterday and took a little nap that lasted until seven. Three hours. Which meant there was no hope of getting the three year-old to bed at any sort of reasonable hour.
But little glitches like that sometimes carry in them the potential for a wonderful break from routine, or present opportunities that are normally absent. It was mostly dark, and the sky was fortuitously clear. So I quickly set up the telescope in the parking lot of the complex.
I'd been looking forward to doing this since the time I first learned I was to become a father. He seemed ready now, old enough to discern what he saw in the eyepiece and understand, sort of, what it was. I had flipped through astronomy books with him before, and looked at the pictures. He knows a photo of Jupiter when he sees one, and often asks where it is when we're outside at night.
It all came together last night. He was awake, the sky was clear, and I had planned on getting the scope out anyway. I held him up off the ground, and he seemed to know what to do, maybe from watching me. Adjusting his head, trying to figure out how to get his eye right up to the eyepiece. A wide grin right from the first look, which was a rather unimpressive view of Venus. But even just that little white ball enthralled him. I pointed to it in the sky and told him that that was what he was looking at.
Next came Saturn. He saw the rings. Then the moon; he learned the word "craters". Then he asked to look at Saturn again. Then asked again for the moon. Back and forth. Held his little action figure up to the eyepiece so that he could take a look (Submarine Man needs to see the solar system, too).
The smile never left his face.