View Full Version : One Year- Reflections

2008-Nov-24, 10:50 PM
Last night I examined the Great Nebula in Orion with as much detail as my 12x24 binoculars can supply. It was just as beautiful as last winter, when I first began observing with binoculars and making a commitment to learn the sky in depth.

I've been interested in space since I was very young. I knew a few constellations and observed the moon a lot, but, one year ago, I decided that wasn't enough. I bought a book about observing with binoculars and started discovering the Winter Hexagon.

Winter slowly thawed and Leo rose in the sky. I caught February's lunar eclipse at a hotel in Connecticut where I stood by a window in the lobby and asked everybody who came by to come and look. One Japanese guy hurried towards the elevators and I asked him
"Did you see the-"
"-Too busy!" he shouted back.
Others came and were amazed, and a very kind receptionist printed out information from the Internet for everyone to read. After a while, the Japanese guy came back and saw the crowd around me.
"I'm sorry about before. What was it that you wanted to show me?" he asked
"Did you see the lunar eclipse? Last one visible from the US until 2010."
"I've got to call my kids!" He said, pulling out his sat phone.

On March 29th, my family turned off our electronics for Earth Hour and hurried outside to see the ISS arc across the sky.
"It looks like God's shining down a flashlight." My father said.
After he and mum had gone in, I stayed outside with my brother for almost the whole hour, arcing to Arcturus and speeding on to Spica. The wind tried to blow out our candles, and we had to keep relighting them.
"Indy's here to save the day." My brother said, relighting my candle off his and pointing to his Indiana Jones hat.

In early May, I sat outside in the dewy grass with fog rolling in and saw Vega rise, blue-white, over my neighbour's house. Summer was on its way. Being able to know that by the stars gave me a special feeling of accomplishment.

Vega and Altair, the legendary separated lovers in Asian myth, were certainly quite a sight on either side of the band of the Milky Way. I followed the band to its bright center amid the teapot of Sagittarius, where Jupiter also made an appearance. But nothing topped lying in the grass and looking up at Cygnus, brilliant and (as the binoculars showed) star-filled, flying free in the Milky Way.

I woke up in the August pre-dawn with my mother to watch the Perseid meteors. Despite clouds, we saw a few that were quite stunning!

In October, Venus, Jupiter and the full moon formed a perfect Halloween treat, and I could see the Pleiades rising over my neighbour's house just as Vega had done. The Summer Triangle on one horizon and the edge of the Winter Hexagon on the other- this was truly autumn as I'd never defined it.

And last night, the circle was closed. I have observed one year's cycle in the sky, and I can't wait for more!