It’s almost the end of the year, so we thought we’d share a far-out story from our resident astronomer Dave Reneke.
Dave, from Australasian Science magazine, told us about a thing called space burials.
“We’re talking about the launching of cremated remains into outer space being offered by a few companies like Celestis and Elysium Space,” Dave said.
“From all accounts, sales have been taking off like a rocket.”
This service can cost anywhere from $2500 to $12,500, depending on the option selected.
Celestis soon expects to send ashes to the surface of the Moon at a cost of $9995.
On launch day, families gather at the lift-off site to share the experience of seeing their loved ones’ dreams of space flight realised.
Memories of the dearly departed are shared among friends and family at a pre-launch memorial service.
Cremated remains are carefully loaded into the spacecraft.
“With a roar and a fiery streak across the sky, the rocket lifts its precious load higher and higher into the peaceful solitude of space,” Dave said, quite poetically we might add.
“The process is simple and completed with the utmost respect and care.”
Afterwards the company provides a professionally-produced DVD of the entire event as a keepsake to be shared among family members.
Ashes are sealed inside lipstick-sized containers inside the spacecraft, which stays in orbit for some time before re-entering the atmosphere and burning up completely like a shooting star.
Talk about going out with a bang.
We were having a chat to Elaine Richards, of Salt Ash.
She was telling us how she’d been a Newcastle Herald reader “all my life”.
We tentatively asked her age.
“Eighty-bloody five,” she said.
She mentioned that she couldn’t get the Herald delivered to her house.
Couldn’t you walk to a shop or service station nearby to get the paper, we asked.
“God no,” she said.
We replied: “You’re a bit out of the way, are you?”
Elaine misheard our question. She thought we said “You’re a bit overweight, are you”.
We had a good chuckle at this, before she changed the subject and mentioned that everyone named Elaine was aged in their 80s.
Well, not quite.
We also had a chat to Merewether’s Elaine Street. She’s 78.
Elaine told us that her mum originally wanted to name her Barbara or Pamela, but these names didn’t go with her surname.
Her maiden name was Orton. So if she was named Barbara, her initials would have been BO. Her mum didn’t like the idea of her being associated with body odour.
If she was named Pamela, her initials would have been PO. Her mum didn’t like the idea of this either, because a po was a nickname for a chamber pot.
So Elaine it was.
She recounted that on her wedding day – when she took the surname Street – her husband said in his speech at the reception, “I’ve changed the lane into a street”.
And when her son was born, she made sure not to name him Hunter or Scott.