I first heard about the Great Wall of China in elementary school. My geography teacher told me that it was the only man made object that could be seen from outer space by astronauts. I was hooked. Since then, it has been on my bucket list and this fall I get to cross it off.
The Great Wall was originally built to protect the Chinese empire from nomadic tribes to the north. It is 5,500 miles long and stretches over mountains, deserts, grasslands, and plateaus. Due to erosion, it has been built and rebuilt by various dynasties over the last thousand years. Approximately 1 million workers have perished building the wall. Today, the Great Wall is an UNESCO world heritage site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Most tourists visit the sections that were built by the Ming dynasty about 700 years ago – starting with Hushan Great Wall in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west. This section is close to Beijing, thus making this an ideal day trip for many tourists.
Recently, controversy has surrounded the Great Wall regarding astronauts’ ability to view it from outer space. All experts agree that the Great Wall cannot be seen by the naked eye from the moon. This is equivalent to viewing a human hair from two miles away. It is just not going to happen. However, NASA has said that the Great Wall is visible to the unaided eye from low orbit with perfect weather conditions. This is good enough for me.
I am really looking forward to this part of the adoption trip. Beijing is my first stop and I will spend 2 or 3 days in this magnificent city. One of these days will be dedicated to the Great Wall. I will be able to walk on the ‘object seen from outer space’ that I first heard about in elementary school.