Saturday, February 06, 2010


A ritual walk on the sand, the brittle night and the wide blue sky of Winter boundless above us. With frozen lips I named the couple stars I've managed to learn and wondered why I didn't choose to learn the warmer summer sky.


I'm tempted to start my naming with the Big Dipper and its arrow to Polaris; the Big Dipper being the only constellation I'd learned as a child and which I've since learned (thanks to Steve) is, instead, an asterism.

I turn my back to the chill wind and its view of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor to start instead with conspicuous Orion, whose belt (another asterism and don't I sound smart?) points the way to Sirius and Canis Major and Canis Minor... in that general area, too, someone's imagined a rabbit, but I don't see it.

A couple spins (I did a lot of spinning to reorient myself in the sky and avoid the wind) and high in the sky I find the almost familiar "W" of Cassiopeia, whose name I can't pronounce correctly, especially not with such numb lips. From the corner of my eye, a new one, the Pleiades, overhead.

That's five at least, isn't it? Have I learned my quota, can I get back in my car and out of this relentless cold, please?

The dark and the hush deepen, all a part of the beauty that touches the quick of understanding. We came for the night, as well as the stars, and it was there all around us. When at last my stiff fingers had thawed and I was on my way home again, the magic was still there. It's more than the stars; it's the cold and the wind, and the old, old stories across the sky.

34 in my 39 by 40.


MojoMan said...

I should take the time to learn more stars, too. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something ancient, primordial in our connection with the stars, almost as if it's in our DNA.

KGMom said...

Orion's belt--yup, one of my winter sky favorites.
One place around here where musical performances are held is our State building the Forum--the ceiling of which is decorated with the constellations. As a child, I loved sitting there and gazing up in awe. However, that ceiling provides NO help where the real sky is concerned.

MevetS said...

Very smart ...

No one sees that rabbit!

5 down, 83 to go.


dguzman said...

Mmmmm, how I love the night sky. It always makes me wonder: if the universe is expanding, what exactly is it expanding into? What is out there beyond it?

Rabbits' Guy said...

Musta been pretty, good going ... we are so often cloudy that seeing the stars is a big treat! We all have to drag out the star charts and relearn everything all over!

(Might as well just go ice-skating now, before it gets warm!)

Cathy said...

Laura, this was beautiful.

It brought back some very old memories of star-gazing with my now astronomer son.

Did you happen to catch the planetary nebula in the dagger coming off Orions belt?

A smudge with the naked eye but more awesome with binoculars.