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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Rubber Ducky, You're the One!
World traveler Bob Harris goes to Raratonga and names a new constellation:

I say this in all seriousness: for the first couple of days, I had a little trouble believing this place is real.

Imagine water so clear that you can often stand on the shore and simply watch as brightly-colored schools of tropical fish swim by in all directions, just as if you were snorkeling without a mask.

Imagine an island so small that you can ride a mountain bike all the way around in just a couple of hours... so quiet and isolated that it's hundreds of miles to the next largest island, and almost two thousand miles to the nearest actual city... and so thinly-populated that after just a few days, you realize you're seeing the same friendly faces again and again, wherever you go.

Y'know that "beach" screensaver you see sometimes? Back home, when I stop working for more than five minutes, my Macintosh begins a montage of ridiculously green trees, blue water, and white sand. This is that. I can't swear to it, but it sure seems like they must have taken some of those pictures here.
You may have to drive to the middle of nowhere to see it, but I'm really not kidding...

There is a gigantic rubber ducky just to Orion's left. Plain as day. It's the clearest image in the starry sky, at least when there's hardly a damned bit of light for a thousand miles and all the stars are out.

From here, she (imposing gender) is just to the left of Orion, about the same size, and turned 90 degrees so her bottom points toward Orion and her beak is pointing to Earth. Which means, I guess, that in the northern hemisphere, Bob's Big Rubber Ducky (as I hope future astronomers will call her) would be to Orion's right, with the beak pointing away from the ground.

I'm really not kidding. I pointed out the BBRD to a young couple walking on the beach, and (once they got done thinking I was nuts) they saw it, too -- even laughing about how obvious it was.

If you feel like taking a virtual trip around the world on the cheap, check out Bob Harris' complete travelogue; he's promising pictures soon as well.