5 December, 1995



December 5, 1995

Location: 48 41' South Latitude x 179 45 East Longitude Across the International Dateline. 450 miles to New Zealand.

Update:

We officially crossed the International Dateline without ceremony at 7:17 PM local time. The crossing of the 180 degrees longitude was are final time change on our route to New Zealand. I stood and watched the computer monitor. The minutes of longit ude slowly slipped away until the crossing. No bells, no whistles, no balloons released, only the passing of numbers marked the crossing of the Dateline.

The remainder of the day was much like any other, It was there first clear night that we have had in ages. I took the opportunity to do some star gazing. The moon light traced patterns of moving shadows from thin clouds dotting the night sky on the water. The stars seemed to dance in the black envelope of the night. They did not twinkle, they dazzled. The stars seemed to be far brighter than I remembered. It was a magical experience. There was a strong breez e that blew a fine spray onto the deck. The air was thick, almost pungent with the darkness. The light form the pale moon and the stars seemed to form patterns of light far more complex than constellations alone. They were poetry, with the moon setting the verse and the stars giving rhyme. It was glorious.

Although I could not identify any constellations, I was struck by the vast array of images that could be traced from the connect the dot patterns of stars. It was easy to see nothing and everything at the same time. I felt a bit obligated to try and apply some of my astrophysics, but sitting and wondering seemed to be more appropriate.

We are just a few days from New Zealand now, and the frenzied pace has increased as the scientists work to complete the cruise report. Everyone has a responsibility for the final product. Care is taken to make what is written reflect the work and energy put forth during the cruise. Much of the science equipment brought from the two universities has been packed ready to ship back to the states. People continue to work with the data, and use their free time to talk about future projects.

It is hard not to be excited about the coming of land. We know that it is just over the horizon. The mood of everyone on board has been heightened by the anticipation of going home. There is still much to do, and time is becoming shorter.

When we arrive, the support staff will have just three days to unload all of our equipment, and load the gear for the next science cruise. It is a hurried time for them as they work to literally take out the old and bring in the new. It has been six weeks since I left Wisconsin. It has been a long time on the clock and calender, full of excitement, discovery and learning. Somehow though, it seems like we just started yesterday.

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