Big Storm Prompts Interplanetary Vacation

Uh-oh. A big snowstorm is coming, and although most of us would rather see winter finally get out of spring’s way, we’re still jiggered up with anticipation. 50 mile per hour winds and up to 16 inches of snow are expected here in Duluth over the next two days.

We hear a lot of complaints about the weather, but let’s broaden our view a little. Is there anywhere else we could go for a better meteorological experience?

Cosmically speaking, we can’t consider any stars because they’re just too hot and have no solid surface to stand on. Instead let’s look at our neighboring planets.

Mercury – too hot

How about Mercury? Turns out the temperature there ranges from 840 degrees during the day to 275 below zero at night with an average 375 degrees. Way too extreme. There’s also the nagging detail of no atmosphere to speak of.

Venus – never a clear night

OK, let’s move on to Venus. I’m against Venus from the start since it’s cloudy there every single day and night. It’s also hot, hot, hot with a surface temperature around 850 degrees. And the carbon dioxide air is so thick, it would crush you. Nope, not here.

Mars – an extreme version of Duluth

Mars seems like a pretty cool place. It has canyons, ice caps and maybe even microbial life. Unfortunately the average temperature is 67 below zero, and its thin carbon dioxide atmosphere is very dry, not to mention unbreathable. And what about all that dust. With no water to keep it packed down, it’s been blowing around for billions of years. Not good for sensitive electronic devices. Ipod users beware.

Jupiter – nothing to stand on

That brings out to Jupiter, the king of the planets and biggest of in the solar system. Living here would certainly give us bragging rights but sadly, we’d have no solid surface to stand on. The clouds are thousands of miles deep and if you could get to the solid core, you’d be crushed by the enormous weight of the atmosphere overhead. Forget it.

Saturn – too windy

For sheer beauty, nothing beats Saturn. But take a look at those parallel stripes in the photo. They indicate high winds — winds that blow at 900 miles per hour. Lake Superior’s worst nor’easter would be a mild zephyr for ringed planet residents. And there is that persistent problem again of no solid surface. Hmmm … I sense a trend here.

Uranus – too boring

Well, let’s keep looking. Uranus, the butt of many a planetarium joke, is next beyond Saturn but frankly, it’s too bland. Just a big ball of atmosphere tinted blue with unbreathable methane. Not only that, but like a bowling ball gone astray, it rotates sideways instead of upright. Too confusing.

Neptune – wait forever for your 1st birthday

Might Neptune offer a haven of relaxation? Sorry to disappoint again. The temperature out here averages 350 below and the lack of a solid surface in this part of the solar system is really starting to get annoying. Neptune also takes 165 years to go once around the sun. You’d be dead before your first birthday. I apologize for the bad news.

Pluto – too cold, too far, just forget it

That brings us to Pluto, not even a real planet. I’m happy to report that you can stand on Pluto’s surface, but be sure to pack some extra clothing since the temperature’s nearly 400 below. And do you like romantic walks in twilight? The sun’s three billion miles away here, and provides a dim illumination similar to dusk on Earth.

If we reconsider the coming storm and muds of spring, there is indeed no place like home.

1 Response

  1. Far Side of Fifty

    Well couldn’t we just do a fly by, and then return after the storm? The other evening it was very clear, I got to see “The Eyes’ and I think I actually picked out Orions belt..maybe..I am getting better..thanks to you! Gosh when it gets warmer and the snow is all gone ..say like July..I am going to print out one of those great sky maps on your link and lay out half the night!! I will probably have seen a Robin by then too!

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