Travel news! I am in Tucson today; Here is where I have been, and where I will be going…
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More travels: I finished out my month in Italy with a trip to Padua, where I got to visit the historic astronomy tower of the University of Padua and the telescopes at the Asiago Observatory. But then, following a wonderful night train from Padua to Paris and the a high speed train to Brussels, I got to attend the historic unveiling of the first image of a Black Hole and celebration of the 100th anniversary of the IAU. And therein, hangs a tale…
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Well, I had been scheduled for a while to attend the IAU 100th Anniversary opening meeting in Brussels; I didn’t present anything, just showed the flag. But a few days before I left for Brussels, I heard from an old friend (and Vatican Observatory Summer School alumnus) Heino Falcke that he would be in Brussels the day before the meeting to announce the results of the Event Horizon Telescope imaging of a Black Hole.
I wrote to him to see if he was sticking around for the IAU event — he was — but then he surprised me by inviting me to attend the press conference itself. I checked my schedule; my train was due into Brussels at just before 1 pm and the press conference was at 3, so indeed I would be able to make it. After a few string-pulls, I got an invitation. “Be there at 2:15,” I was told. I figured that would give me time to get to the Jesuit Community where I was staying, change into my suit, and find the press conference venue.
I got to Paris only a little late, but since I had plenty of time between trains I didn’t panic. I navigated the Paris Metro from Lyon station to Nord station, found the train to Brussels, and got on line to board it. The conductor wouldn’t let me on.
“What’s the problem?” I asked.
“This ticket is for yesterday,” he pointed out.
Oops. I had bought at ticket from Padua on April 9, and then from Paris also on April 9! So much for getting to Brussels on time. I found the ticket office, got in line, and waited my turn to see about getting a new ticket. Finally, 45 minutes later, I spoke to an agent who said, “Well, there is a train leaving in 15 minutes; do you want to take that?” You bet!
I rushed to the train, got into Brussels at 1:45, rushed to the Jesuit Community and got there just after 2 pm; jumped into my suit, caught the metro out to the main EU headquarters (where, along with the press conference about black holes, various EU leaders were also discussing Brexit)… about 5 minutes late. Still, a young woman with a “Black Hole” sign met me and immediately ushered me in through security. “It’s a good thing you weren’t here earlier, there was quite a crowd then,” she told me.
And so I got to see Heino give his talk…
And as for where I am going? That would be… New Zealand and Australia. But that’s not until next week. Have a great Easter, everyone!