Monday, November 05, 2007

The Night Sky

The last week or so, I've been watching the night sky. Even with the nights becoming crisp, I've been drawn outdoors for a couple of hours at a time. I've taken to grabbing a blanket and my backpacking mattress and driving a good distance from the light pollution cast off from the brightly lit Twin Cities.

What first drew me outside last week was a comet called 17P/Holmes. A friend and I had heard about the comet and decided to try to get pictures of it. We drove out to a spot that allowed us a good look at the sky, pulled over to the side of the road, and set up our cameras.

We were too late. As we were setting up our photo equipment, we noticed that the full moon was rising in the north-eastern sky right where the comet was. Although the comet was bright, it was quickly overpowered by the light of the moon.

Instead of taking pictures of the moon, I took a few minutes to lean up against the car and look at what else was in the sky as I waited for my friend to finish taking pictures. I saw the usual stars, satellites, and planes and my friend and I both saw a shooting star that streaked across the sky.

But the one thing that really caught my attention was the Big Dipper. No matter what I watched or where I looked in the sky, my gaze always went back to that constellation that has been acknowledged in many cultures throughout the ages. My thoughts continued to be centered on this famous constellation for the next few days as I found myself going outside to watch the night sky.

Tonight, as the air was very brisk (there were even some snow flurries today here in Minnesota), I decided to stay in and read tonight. A few days ago, I had picked up a used copy of American Gods by Neil Gaiman on a recommend from Paul at Evoking the Goddess, and I decided that it was the night to start reading it.

Soon after starting it, I realized that can't get away from the Big Dipper even when indoors. Two of the characters in the book climbed up on the roof of a house, where the woman points out the Big Dipper and tells the man about how three cultures view it. The one that caught my attention was Odin's Wain.


Kay said...

Hey Soj!

Give me an email at (klynparis)(at)(gmail)(dot)(com) when you get a second, will ya?

Earl Lee said...

Thanks for the beauty!

Thomas said...

I'm jealous.

Metro Atlanta is nearly a hundred miles across. Driving far enough outside of the city to see clear night skies is a two or three hour endeavor each way.

dragonfly183 said...

I wish i had a camera that worked well enough to take pictures of the moon. Unfortunately all I ever get are fuzzy pictures of a white orb in the sky and it might resemble the moon is I use the sharpener on my photo editor so much you can see all sorts of little pixel boxes everywhere. Someday I hope to have a camera that nice.