'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for January 16th, 2003

Thursday, 16 January 2003

The stuff of which dreams are made

Earlier in the week, when I talked about sitting outside under the stars at night, I mentioned how I’d forgotten so many of the stars (and couldn’t identify many of them). I’d read about some basic astronomy a couple of years ago, but it’s true, I’m still very much a night sky newbie.

Well, I dug up my spiral-bound copy of Terence Dickinson’s excellent book Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe and refreshed my memory a bit. I went back out a couple of hours ago with binoculars, a chair, notepad and pen and spent a good chunk of time identifying stars and trying to remember their characteristics so I wouldn’t forget so easily.

Orion stood high and proud in the SW, and it was easy to spot Castor and the slightly pinker Pollux, as well as Procyon, Sirius and Regulus. Turning around and facing NE, it was hard to avoid seeing Ursa Major. I noticed two very visible planets: one was extremely bright, which I guessed to be Jupiter. Looking south, it was between the Leo constellation and Procyon, almost a straight line out from Bellatrix to Betelgeuse onward. The not-nearly-as-bright second planet, between the moon and Aldebaran, had almost a yellowish tint. After I came back inside, I fired up Adastra Freestar (highly recommended if you don’t already have it!) and ID’d the second planet as Saturn and confirmed the first as Jupiter. (Thanks to my brother for letting me know about Adastra in the first place.)

It’s a fantastic night for stargazing. The sky was clear, and even with the moon overhead, hovering just “above” Capella, I could see very clearly. One of these days I would love to get out of the city for a while…take a camera (or two) and binoculars and get away from the light pollution, to really see what the night sky can look like.

Posted at 1:18 am | Filed under Musings & everything else |