Monday, October 24, 2011

"...if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space."

Talk about spending time at home. I've managed to fall headfirst into a new hobby, one that shockingly (given my truly lifelong fascination with astrology), took me 29 years to discover: astronomy.

It happened by accident. We've been up late a lot recently, and with the arrival of Indian Summer in the bay area, we've been taking a lot of late night trips to the roof to cool down, etc. Indian Summer also means that unlike most of the year, San Francisco skies are clear at night. For the first two weeks or so of October, I kept seeing a really bright star in the sky that wasn't the moon, and really wanted to know what it was. Eventually I opened the free Star Chart app I downloaded from the Amazon app store (for Android), and put it to use.

Here's where I totally fell in: it was Jupiter! I was shocked, n00b that I am, that a planet that far away could be so huge in the night sky. I started noticing it more every time I went outside at night. I'd babble about it to Scott, talk about it, look it up on the internet. I started finding out more things about the night sky. And then, this week, I started seriously using my Star Chart app, and spending far too much time on the roof craning my neck and identifying planets, constellations and other space phenomena at different times of the night. I saw my first two real shooting stars. I found the Andromeda galaxy. I saw Mars just before sunrise. I found the Pleiades, which is an open cluster of stars visible to the naked eye (this is my very favorite object in the night sky so far). I also loved finding Castor & Pollux (the constellation of Gemini) and glimpsing the wonder of the Orionid meteor shower last weekend.


So far I've just been viewing with the naked eye, and its amazing what I've been able to see, even in the middle of a fairly large city. I can't help but think about what I might be able to see in more rural areas, or with binoculars or a telescope. Yes, I admit that I've been pricing telescopes. A girl can dream, can't she!


Some of my favorite memories of late have been of Scott & I up on the roof, stargazing. It's really fun and it means a lot to me emotionally. It makes you realize more of how infinitely small we are, and how lucky we are to be here (even if we have no real idea why we're here). Sharing that with someone is beautiful.


Interested in what's happening this week or after? Check out Sky & Telescope magazine.


My favorite -- the Pleiades. Looks like a shimmering cloud deep in the night sky.


3 comments:

  1. Love the Contact quote! One of my favorite movies, ever!

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  2. You should watch Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" series if you haven't already - I think you would enjoy it!

    http://www.hulu.com/cosmos

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  3. @Melissa -- yes! Gosh that movie resonated with me so much.

    And re: Cosmos -- I've seen some episodes of Cosmos but nowhere near all, but the good news is that we have them all on DVD! Once I make room for TV again there will have to be a marathon ;)

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