I was surprised and delighted by a gift from an astronomy friend this week, a LIGO cap (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). It was accompanied with a wonderful story in an impeccably hand-written card. Here is what the card says:

Dear Fiske,

When I was a student there was a physics professor named Kip Thorne who loved to tell stories about black holes, time travel and wormholes. His team also worked on an instrument called LIGO (and concept LISA) to detect gravitational waves from distant events like colliding black holes. Rumor had it the prototype could pick up ocean waves on the beach 40 miles away. But that was by far not enough. Fast forward a decade and LIGO detected its first black hole merger more than one billion light years away. Prof. Thorne (also Weiss and Barish) received a Nobel prize for the new observing technology.

More discoveries followed. Mr. Thorne retired in 2009 and decided to help popularize science. He helped C. Nolan make the 2014 SciFi movie Insterstellar, coloring many of the scientific scenarios Kip used to tell.

My friend goes on to say, knowing that I often observe from my light-polluted urban yard, that “there is no light pollution in gravitational waves.” They are not, however, easily observed with binoculars! πŸ˜‰Even the fine Oberwerk 120XL binocular telescope shown in the picture above.

I’m going to read up on LIGO discoveries to hopefully pinpoint a location in the northern sky which I can view with binoculars, knowing that something mysterious (if invisible) discovered by LIGO is there. πŸ™‚