Fall 2018 Alumni News

Nocturnal Aviation at Hawthorne House

Thanks to LPL alum Cliff Stoll for forwarding this piece of graduate student history.

Ever hear of Nocturnal Aviation? From 1976 to 1981, LPL grad students Guy Consolmango, Nick Gautier, John Wacker, and Cliff Stoll ran a T-shirt printing enterprise. Nick built a wooden T-shirt printing press; John drove up to Phoenix and bought a few hundred blank shirts; Guy found space for the backyard escapade; Cliff arm-twisted the Kitt Peak Visitor Center into purchasing them. Together, we designed astronomical T-shirts and printed them using hand-cut silk screens.

Every few months, we'd gather at Hawthorne House [home to several LPL grad students] and squeeze ink through silk screens onto shirts. The stellar and solar designs sold like hotcakes up at Kitt Peak—supplementing our meager graduate assistantships with ink-spattered lucre. Other grad students tagged along for the nuttiness. Occasionally, a faculty member volunteered space: Professor Laurel Wilkening's driveway in Winterhaven (Tucson) probably still shows blotches of blue and red textile ink. Along the way, we printed the first Lunar & Planetary Lab T-shirt. Guy Consolmagno, not yet a Jesuit, came up with a suitable design and Latin inscription: Ex Nebula Solari, Planetes. We'd wanted this to mean, "Out of the solar nebula came planets." LPL's resident atmospheric chemist and latin scholar, Godfrey Sill, pointed out three mistakes in Guy's Latin (can you find 'em?).

Warm greetings from forty years later,
Cliff Stoll