Yesterday at 2pm the front of my van had a disagreement with the back of a car in Leicestershire.
After shock and formalities the car drove away because you can pummel the back of a car and the car doesn’t care. If you pummel the front of a van it cries all over the floor and doesn’t want to drive anymore. You are stranded. Stranded on Bowleys Lane.
After a complicated two hours of calling various people Carl rang me. He was here to sort stuff and said that there was someone on the way to take me and my van home and they would be with me in 60 minutes. This was good news. I looked out at the view.
Satisfied, I decided to go for a walk along the A444.
At the garage I bought a bottle of Buxton Still because it is thirsty to walk along a busy road. I went into a phone box to make calls because it was noisy from the M42. I told people not to worry anymore because Carl had it all sorted out and I would be rescued in less than 60 minutes. This done I walked back down the A444 to a signposted Leicestershire county council maintained footpath that I’d seen.
I went into Job’s Field beneath Parsonage House. Parsonage House has mediocre visible views over the countryside and terrible audio views of the motorway.
In Job’s Field Carl rang me. He said everything was mostly excellent and gave me his special number to call him back on if I got scared. I thanked Carl.
Job’s Field has impressive ridge and furrow.
Ridge and furrow comes from the type of ploughing used for hundreds of years from just after the Romans. The olden plough pushes the soil to one side and so when you’re ploughing one side of a strip and then you turn and plough the other side it pushes the soil more into the middle of the strip and you get humped strips. It is most noticeable in slightly rolling hilly areas that were ploughed in the olden days but aren’t ploughed in the modern days.
The next field, Upper Parks, had old grass in it and was boring.
This is the church of Appleby Magna that I discovered:
The church is okay and near to it there is wet patch on the ground with ducks in it.
And that is okay too. I walked through Lower Parks back to the road and I discovered daffodils.
And a mattress in a ditch.
Back at the van it was growing dark.
I got scared and called Carl. The phone line told me that Carl and everybody else had gone home. Carl had given me his number and told me to call him if I had any problems about 20 minutes before his office closed and he went home. Carl had stitched me up and left me alone on Bowleys Lane. I called the breakdown hotline to find a back door into Carl’s system as breakdown hotlines aren’t allowed to close. A lady from RAC was sad that I had been stuck for three and a half hours and she put me on hold. It seems that RAC use Cisco CallManager and so I found myself listening to the famous Opus No.1 by Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel.
After this I was cheered and the RAC lady passed me on to Jade who said she was going to stay with me until I was rescued no matter what.
This is the inside of the Crown Inn in Appleby Magna:
There was a nice little crowd for a Wednesday night and they were being nice to each other and laughing and there were children playing games. One man told a story about his unrinary tract endoscopy. Jade rang and said that things seemed good and then a strange man rang and said he was at my van and wanted to winch it onto a truck so I had to finish my drink much too quickly and leg it back to the van.
The man was a double divorced part time fireman from Burton on Trent that looked like Ross Kemp. He wore a body warmer with a camouflage design and he has a cat.
I got home at 10pm.
Ahoy. And here we are back for more interplanetary exploration, although in this case it is monoplanetary. It is local monoplanetary exploration.
Anyway, you will remember from last time (part one) that currently we are floating in the asteroid belt about one hundred and fifty million miles from Earth, next to Ceres, the ice ball. But stuff this place because we’ve been here for ages so let’s go!
230 million miles after Ceres is:
Now, you’ll notice that we just traveled the same distance to get here from Ceres as we did to get to Ceres from the sun. We have left the hot rocky middle behind and are into the gassy section of the solar system, although this by no means means that we are out of hot rocks. Jupiter, the biggest planet, sits there big and fat and hydrogen and it sucks comets and asteroids into itself from the far outer solar system and throws them around, possibly at us. It also sucks itself into itself, mushing its hydrogen into a fluid and then into a metal fluid that conducts electricity at thousands and thousands of degrees temperature. It is unknown what the middle is but it is probably hot rocks.
btw, all the way out here the sun is starting to get quite small although it is still very brilliant.
262 thousand miles after Jupiter is:
Queasy Io is the most volcanic thing in the solar system. It has a dicky tummy because its guts are squashed and stretched around as it is pulled about between Jupiter and the other large moons. It spews up stinky yellow sulphur all over itself. Its inner discontent has caused a breakout of 400 volcanoes and 100 mountains, some taller than Everest, on its otherwise smooth surface. It is as big as our moon.
155 thousand miles after Io is:
Europa is a very smooth icy globe that occasionally spits water because it gets squashed about like Io. This means that there is likely to be a liquid water ocean under the ice and it is therefore an excellent spot to be looking for aliens. Sadly no missions are planned until the 2020s. The ice surface is not solid and still, it slips and slides separate from the rocky middle and it cracks and bulges and bubbles. There could also be lakes under the ice but above the ocean.
248 thousand miles after Europa is:
Bigger than Mercury, Ganymede is unlucky to be strapped to Jupiter when it would make a perfectly nice planet. It is a bit of everything, rock and ice and a metal middle. It is also thought to have a giant internal ocean, although for some reason it seems less exciting here than it does on Europa. Mostly it bullies the other moons around with Jupiter, like Jupiter’s slimy little rat weasel friend.
505 thousand miles after Ganymede is:
Happy to be away from the rumpus of the inner moons, Callisto is peacefully inert and cold. It has an ice coating and a rocky icy inside, like the negative of a malteser. Although its surface is actually very dark. It has an ancient bombed surface, the oldest in the solar system, because there is no geological activity to make nice fresh surface. There is not an inch of it that isn’t part of an impact crater. When a decent asteroid hits it, white ice is exposed.
Jupiter actually has over 60 moons in total, although the rest are not round so we don’t care. Basically that means we’re done here. Next time we’ll visit everybody’s favourite planet and its associated loads of moons. Here is a nice photograph of everywhere we’ve been this time to say bye bye with.
edit 12/03/14: I saw the things in this blog post through a telescope tonight. It was cool.
Found some images that I made to put on postcards or mugs in the first days of the website. They contain pictures from the first few stories and the original home page which was much better than the current one but contained no dynamic content and was therefore viewed by the internet as being redundant. If you ever met the physical embodiment of the internet it would be a tedious animal.
If you’d like a mug with one of these pictures on then just nick it and use awesome merch or something. The internet lets you do that. It has no respect for other people’s property.
I have embarked on a mission to paint all of the round things (that aren’t boring) in the solar system and I am taking you with me. The round things are the old things, so they tend to be pretty good. In this part we are going to journey for two hundred and fifty million miles. To makes it easy I am going to pretend that all of the things are in one big line and refer to one as being after the other, although it actually looks more like someone sneezed on their record player.
We start in the middle, and you know what that means…
The sun is an enormous and terrifying roiling ball of magnetic plasma that lives in the middle. the sun’s main task is to turn 600 million tons of hydrogen into 596 million tons of helium a second. The remaining 4 million tons of hydrogen a second is turned into all of the energy that the sun spits out. 0000002% of that energy gets to us but 30% of that 0000002% is reflected back into space by the Earth’s atmosphere. The total solar energy absorbed by Earth in an hour is more than people use in a year. The sun is a monster.
36 million miles after the sun is:
Mercury is the dinkiest “real” planet and is a blasted grey rock with a massive magnetic metal middle. If you went to Mercury in the day you would be immediately cooked like a broiler chicken and if you went at night you would be immediately frozen like Iceland chicken breast fillets. This is because Mercury has no atmosphere. The sun looks 4 times bigger there than it does from Earth. Spacecraft MESSENGER has been hanging out and keeping it company for the last few years.
26 million miles after Mercury is:
Venus is the brightest thing in the sky at dusk and dawn. You can’t see it at proper night cos it lives near the sun. It is the goddess of love because it has a thick reflective sulfuric acid shell that covers dense liquid carbon dioxide clouds and it is absolutely roasting hot. The surface is bone dry smooth volcanic plain except for two upland continents, one the size of Australia and one the size of South America.
24 million miles after Venus is:
239 thousand miles after Earth is:
“The moon” is the first, and therefore most important, moon in the solar system. We should be grateful that we have a nice moon. Mars has rubbish moons. Mercury and Venus have none. Our moon is the largest in the solar system relative to its planet but we are not a double planet system because the moon is locked to the Earth, which is why the same side always faces us. If we were a double planet then one side of the Earth would face the moon the whole time too and we would be dancing like Rose and Jack on the Titanic. Although romantic and exciting, this would mean that half the planet wouldn’t be able to see the moon and that would affect property prices.
34 million miles after Luna is:
Mars is our future home and is therefore of great interest. There are five vehicles currently scrutinising Mars. There are three orbiters and Curiosity lab and the unimaginative rover Opportunity are on the surface and they all have multiple twitter accounts and take awesome pictures. Water vapour clouds like on Earth form on Mars when spring sunlight touches the frozen carbon dioxide that covers the water ice at the poles, the carbon dioxide turns straight to gas and rockets off the ice cap into the sky at 250mph, taking water with it.
115 million miles after Mars is:
Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is the size of Texas and may hold more water than is on the whole Earth. It is close enough to the sun for the ice to melt and reform and it periodically coughs water into its atmosphere. It could be smuggling life stuff. Dawn spacecraft will be there in a year to check it out. Dawn spacecraft is cool because it uses an innovative Ion Propulsion System that works by exciting Xenon atoms using a captive musical ninjutsu space pixie:
And we all wish him well.
Well, that’s as far as we can go for now. Here is a good size comparison of everywhere we’ve been so far. Next time we’ll be jetting off to Jupiter to have a look at it and its moons and stuff.