Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stars 11/06

UpNorthCindy whose blog may be found to the left in my links wrote of getting up in the small hours of the morning, looking out of the window and seeing stars. So many stars that she was led to write about it today in her blog.
I sent a comment that it reminded me of an December evening some time ago when I stopped at the west end of town here to pick up a guy who was riding with me to school. We were in night classes obviously, and shared to cost of the not inconsiderable trip by carpooling.
The west end of town is residential only and few sodium vapor lights to cast their residual glow upward and interfere with sky gazing. He was waiting by the street  and I picked him up.  And as I drove toward the outlet onto the Turnpike, I saw a long-shaped glow. It took up a lot of the sky and it was pitch black outside. I had to stop anyway before I could pull into traffic so I looked again and commented to the man with me. He said " Oh. That's the Milky Way. We see it all the time. Haven't you ever seen it before?" He was unaffected and I sat there staring until he urged me to get onto the road and get us to our classes (Marketing, if you are curious). Finally I got a move on and I have never forgotten the wonder since. Never again saw the Milky Way. But I have seen Venus at it's usual point above the horizon, and at the right time of year, Mars and Jupiter fairly much in opposition with/to one another. That is totally cool. Even with the naked eye IF you know where to look and when, you can make out the faintest of reddish cast to Mars. With our telescope, we got to see it much much better and at the time, Saturn and a few of Saturn's rings. Got to see Jupiter and a moon...just one. I bought a moon filter so we could look at the moon and not have our eyes knocked out by the brightness once we focused on it. Even got a fuzzy picture of it then. Times have improved in those years and even folks such as myself or my sons can have a much larger refracting telescope with a motor. Something we didn't have back in the days of yore and I or we were most annoyed by having the heavenly object summarily move itself!!! It was, of course, the Earth's rotation that seemingly moved the planets, and it was darned hard to find them again in our sights. And have you ever had the pleasure of seeing Venus shining so brilliantly, just under the thin sliver of moon, low on the horizon..like a diamond or gemstone suspended from the moon's crescent. A pendent worthy of the richest mogul but there for we mortals with wonder in our minds and eyes.
It was funny sometimes though. One, there is a forest right here at the back of my home. I have written of it. (leaves, anyone?) and so the boys would set the 'scope up in the front yard away from some of the trees but then, the neighbors saw it and likely thought "those dirty old boys!" or worse, " That dirty old woman" when we were out there doing our best through the light pollution and trees to catch a glimpse of the starry heaven.

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