When physicists get married

I don’t normally post things about my personal life on the internet but this one event was so wonderfully geeky that I feel the need to share it.

Four months ago I got married. Not necessarily an occasion worth writing about on a blog that’s mostly about astronomy. However, as my now-husband is also a physicist (of the nuclear kind), we decided to see how much physics we could subtly (and not-so-subtly) fit into the wedding.

We started off with the stationary, where we decided to go down the handmade route. Luckily Hobbycraft is full of starry decorations and so we ended up sticking countless little plastic stars to pieces of ribbon on invitations, placecards and favour boxes:

The purple chest in the above picture contained sweets for the wedding favour. A pretty standard thing to do but instead of the traditional heart-shaped chocolates or sugared almonds, we chose to use Milky Way Magic Stars and Atomic Fireblasts to represent our two branches of physics.

Next up was the table names. Each table was named after a different physicist. We decided on Rutherford for the top table as we met in our first year of a physics degree at Manchester (and spent most of our time in the Rutherford lecture theatre).

Other tables were named after Bohr, Chandrasekhar, Herschel, Thomson, Curie, Lovell and Jansky. For each table we made a sign with a picture of the physicist on the front and a mini-biography on the back (even at my wedding I couldn’t help but educate!). On the table plan we thought we would have an extra treat for the astronomers in attendance and decorated it with a constellation in each corner:

Now there are a lot of geeky wedding cakes out there, from xkcd to programming. We played around with a lot of ideas for our cake and eventually decided to go all out with a solar system wedding cake. I’d seen a two-tier wedding cake decorated with the planets but we thought we could go one better with eight small cakes for the planets and a larger one for the Sun. When Sheila at Inspirations Cakes started talking about spherical cakes I was sold! Some miscommunication mean that Uranus had to be turned into the Earth at the last minute but I think it turned out pretty well! It’s obviously not to scale but I think that would have been a step too far (even for us).

And finally…

A few days before the wedding I checked Heavens Above and realised there would be a bright ISS pass over the reception venue just before our first dance. Despite the weather forecast not looking promising I fired a quick email off to our photographer extraordinaire Dave Burlison who was more than up for the challenge of a wedding photo with the ISS in the background! We gathered outside with some astro friends and amazingly the clouds broke just in time to get some awesome shots:

That little streak in the sky above our heads is the International Space Station! There are astronauts in our wedding photo! I still can’t quite believe we managed to pull this off. I just hope they remembered to smile…

All photos were taken by Dave Burlison from Burlison Photography.

The ISS from Manchester

Tonight I decided to test out the video camera on my new phone by trying to catch the International Space Station as it passed over when I was leaving the office. I only managed to get a few seconds (linked below) – I was too busy waving to the ISS when I first saw it and then it passed behind a building.

Tested out the camera on my new phone and took this video of ... on Twitpic

I think it came out OK. There are some very bright passes over the next few nights so I’ll certainly try to get a better video (providing the clouds play nice and stay away). If you want to find out when the next visible ISS pass is for your location, check out Heavens Above or sign up for twitter notifications via Twisst.