Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day--in space!

This is awesome:

Irish-American astronaut Cady Coleman has not forgotten her Emerald Isle roots, even as she sails high above Earth on the International Space Station. The NASA astronaut marked St. Patrick's Day in space by playing a solo on a 100-year-old Irish flute.

"I love St. Patrick's Day," Coleman said in a NASA video released today (March 17). "In my family, we are a quarter Irish on each side and somehow that adds up to much more than a half."

When she launched toward the space station in December on a Russian spacecraft, Coleman — a hobby flutist — made sure to take a bit of that Irish heritage along for the ride. She packed away two Irish instruments — an antique wooden flute and a shiny pennywhistle — that were loaned to her by the members of the Chieftains, an Irish band.

"St. Patrick's Day is a day when people all over the Earth recognize their Irish heritage," Coleman said while wearing an appropriately green shirt. "And now we're doing that from space as well.

The wooden flute is owned by Chieftains member Matt Molloy, and the pennywhistle is one used by his bandmate Paddy Maloney, Coleman said.

"I might not have mentioned that the trip would have been six months long and that their flutes would have traveled millions of miles before they came home, but I'd like to reassure them that their treasures are just fine," Coleman said. "They're actually never far from home because we fly over Ireland several times a day."

Here's a video of Coleman playing a tune on one of her flutes.

Happy St. Patrick's Day--wherever in, or out of, the world you are! :)

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