Friday, July 19, 2024

Hann Solo

Dragons are nothing compared to space monsters. Photo by Angela Gzowski

Cheryl Hann is one of the luckiest people in the world. As a member of local sketch comedy group Picnicface, she has the opportunity to not only star in a TV show on the Comedy Network, but earn a living making people laugh.

According to Hann, though, she would leave that all behind to do one thing.

“I love what I do and I love my job,” she says, “but I would quit tomorrow if I could become an astronaut.”

Soon she may have that chance.

A few weeks ago Hann’s mother was looking through the Metro when she discovered the Race for Space contest: with the help of Space Expedition Curacao, Metro would be granting one lucky person the chance to fly for an hour above the Earth’s atmosphere.

Her mother quickly called her to deliver the good news.

“When I found out it was real, I just lost my mind,” Hann says.

Photo by Angela Gzowski

Growing up in the remote town of Quirpon, N.L., Hann was always enamored by “nature and natural phenomena.” But it wasn’t until one specific winter while GT snow racing that she discovered the true beauty of the night sky. “I had fallen off my GT and was just lying there recovering my breath and this meteor shower was going on. There were just pink and green streaks in the sky and I was like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ and became obsessed with it.”

Since that day Hann has been obsessed with space. She frequently visits the St. Mary’s University observatory to look through their high-powered telescope and explore the night sky. (She even knows the differences between the observatory’s summer and winter schedules.) She loves to watch documentaries on space exploration and spends her free time listening to electromagnetic sound recordings the Voyager took while passing by planets in our solar system decades ago.

“With Saturn they compressed the electromagnetic waves and found speech patterns in the recording. They don’t understand what that’s all about,” she says. Earth, on the other hand, sounds like “an enchanted forest. It sounds like magic. You can hear that there is something different about this planet compared to the others.”

With the money gained from her television show she plans to soon buy a telescope of her own, but she wants to consult with someone who knows their stuff so she doesn’t get ripped off.

More recently, her love of space took her to California, where she got to visit the world famous Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. After begging one of the clerks to move the telescope, she was able to look through Jupiter’s murky clouds. The event was truly awe-inspiring.

Hann thinks the overwhelming sense of awe from the cosmos is what truly draws people to the mysteries of the universe.

“Space is the thing. It is the last unknowable thing there is and everybody is fascinated by it because everyone wants to know all the secrets. But some secrets you just can’t know, which is why it’s fascinating,” she says.

Her race for space is going well. According to the standings at the time this article was written, Hann sits in seventh place. But she points out the system experiences inexplicable fluctuations from time to time: “It’s like, ‘This is awesome, I have 21,000 votes. I’m winning.’ Then you push refresh and you’ve moved down four spots and someone has moved up with 50,000 votes. It doesn’t make sense.”

But Hann continues to slave away during the race, posting on her Facebook and Twitter pages consistently and urging fans to vote 10 times daily.

“I have never before exploited my Picnicface thing, or fame, if you could even call it that. But going to space is pretty much the only dream I have that I really care about,” she says. “Part of me wonders if I’m a villain because I’m on TV and I use that to try to win this contest. But the bottom line is: I don’t care. I want to go to space.”

The contest closes March 26. Those wishing to vote can do so by visiting http://metroinspace.com/ca

Editor’s note: Cheryl Hann is a former contributor to the Gazette.

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