Santa Barbaran Daniel Godinez hitches his wagon to the stars
July 2012—It’s Saturday morning and 15-year-old Daniel Godinez catches the bus from his home twelve miles outside of Santa Barbara. With transfers and delays, he pieces together a two-hour circuitous ride to the Museum of Natural History, the sprawling stucco and tile casa ranchero-inspired building, nestled creek-side amidst foothills that rise into mountains. He walks along an empty parking lot, past an enormous blue whale skeleton, through the adobe entrance, and cuts a diagonal across the open courtyard. Pulling the door open, marked “Gladwin Planetarium,” he feels his way along a dark aisle towards control booth, and senses the awesome presence of the shadowed dome overhead, as if being watched. In less than an hour seats will fill for the first show of the day; but for now he is alone. This is Daniel’s moment; he is about to turn on the universe.
If you had happened to take a seat that morning, leaning back, you would have been guided through the wonders of our solar system and beyond, by an upbeat and articulate astronomer who appears far too young to be versed in 14 billion years of cosmic arcana. How did this young man get to where he is? When did the stars begin to glow in his sky? Continue reading