Monday, January 05, 2015

Starry, Starry Night

I have long been fascinated by the night sky. I feel a great affinity for the moon and the pull of her power. I love how she is a lamp for those who need to see in the dark when she is at full power, and how she hides away during the new moon phase, giving shelter to those who need and seek dark places.

Sometimes we all need to hide from the light.

When I hear about meteor showers, I stay up to watch the streaks fly across the sky. I have been known to pull my car out of the garage and watch through the windshield on cold nights.

I photograph eclipses, or try to, and I watch the International Space Station when it flies overhead. (It can currently be seen in the early morning hours; on Wednesday, January 7, at 6:36 a.m., it will be in view for a full 6 minutes in the Fincastle area.)

When my mother became ill, my aunt bought her a star. I don't know where her star is in the sky and couldn't find her name in any online registry, though I noted that most of them did not go back that far in their listings. I thought it was pretty cool to buy a star, though I don't think that star name has any "officialness" about it (The International Astronomy Union, founded in 1919, says there is no way to officially name a star after someone). Regardless, it was a sweet gesture.

One thing I do not know, though, is the constellations. I can find a few of them - mainly the Big and Little Dippers, which apparently aren't even listed in the modern constellations - but others elude me. Even with a map of the sky I usually cannot figure it out. That's pretty sad, given that there are 88 constellations in the current listings.

Many of the constellations relate back to Greek and Roman mythology or astrology. Among the names I recognize from a chart are Andromeda, Aries, Cancer, Cassiopeia, Centaurus, Gemini, Hercules, Hydra, Leo, Libra, Orion, Pegasus, Pisces, Sagittarius, Taurus, and Virgo. Of course, that is not all of them. You can find the list of them all here, along with what look like very complicated charts.

Perhaps this will be the year that I study the stars, gazing upwards with a sky chart to find those constellations. It would be a nice way to spend a warm summer's night, standing in the grass, smelling the scent of cut hay, and watching the fireflies blink.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photo. Living in the city, I struggle to get decent pics of the moon, and never seem to catch meteor showers. I do know a few of the constellations, but not many.

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