Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The other evening, Ol’ Robbo was standing at the top of the back stairs waiting for Decanter Dog to finish up her biznay in the yard and idly scanning the sky overhead when I suddenly realized that one of the stars was moving, heading calmly and steadily in a southeasterly direction.

Whatever it was, it definitely was not a meteor, nor was it any kind of commercial aircraft. My guess is that it was an artificial satellite of some sort, and my further guess is that it was the International Space Station. (Is there anything else in orbit actually visible to the naked eye?)

I’ve been poking about on the innertoobs to try and verify this. Alas, the only tracking tools I’ve found tell me where the thing is right now, not 36 hours ago. On the other hand, they confirm that the general direction and speed of what I saw makes an ISS-sighting perfectly plausible. I hope so.

Speaking of which, I was watching a program on the Smithsonian Channel last evening about the history of the planet. (The show purports to rely a lot on “new satellite evidence”, which is the link here.) It was the first episode of a series (called something like “The Life of Earth”) and sought to squash the first 4.5 billion years of Earth history into 50 minutes of programming, a very daunting task. What came across when the timeline was so sped up was how often and violently the planet’s atmosphere changes, both in terms of temperature and even composition. I had to chuckle a bit: Among massive volcanic activity, periodic asteroid collisions, and the overspreading of single-celled photosynthetic-based organisms mucking it about, our own presence in the mix, even if you buy into the worst of teh climate-alarmist rhetoric, seems comparatively tiny and insignificant.

The show was also refreshingly neutral, with no apparent politickal axe to grind. However, as I say this was the first episode. The rest of the series evidently deals with the rise and spread of Mankind. I’m sure in the end all the Bad Things will turn out to be our own damn fault after all.

UPDATE: Which reminds me, I saw this article the other day: NASA turns to religious scholars to prepare humanity for alien contact. (The tone is surprisingly unlike Oolon Colluphid’s blockbuster trilogy, Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes, and Who Is This God Person Anyway?) I suppose if you’re like the kid who lived across the street from me in my yoot who routinely brought round pamphlets “proving” dinosaur bones are elaborate fakes, such contact would be difficult to comprehend. As an ardent admirer of C.S. Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy, Ol’ Robbo says, “Moar, faster, please!”