Saturday, October 5, 2013

Watching the stars

There’s a period of about a half hour, when you wait for the sky to darken, that it seems to stop getting darker. The Earth is, indeed, turning it’s back on the sun and the western horizon is actually getting darker, yet at the same time your pupils are dilating wider.

It was a perfect night to wait for the stars. Absolutely cloudless. No moon. Pleasant temperature. Far from light pollution. I waited.

The first star was actually a planet, bright in the west, reflecting the sun’s light.

The next star was actually headlights on the horizon about fifteen miles away.

But then, directly overhead, the first star. Then others. Then millions.

There were stars I could only see by not looking at them. (Darned blind spot where the optic nerve exits the eye.)

At the left periphery, a meteorite. I think. Then another. I watched for more. None.

Aircraft lights. Blink-blink, blink-blink, changing colors, red-white, red-white...

The Milky Way a cloudy band of a bajillion stars arching from northeast to southwest. I can tell because there’s the Big Dipper pointing to the North Star, Polaris.

And it’s only 7:25 on the last night of September. Wait until I go out around 3:00. The lights of other campers should all be out. Vehicles will be off that distant highway. My pupils will be totally dilated from staring at the back of my eyelids. It will be fantastic.

(I went out at 1:47. Amazing. If I’d waited until 3:00 the moon would have been up, spoiling everything.)

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