11 May 99

The back door has stood open for the past week. We had clouds and rain, and the weather was quite warm. I didn't need socks. And when I was taking care of the bedding plants at the Farm Stand on Saturday, it was raining lightly and I was warm enough with only my teeshirt. But, on Sunday the skies cleared, and it has turned quite cool. Tonight I have shut the door.

Last night I noticed how clear the sky was. Tonight I stopped to look at the stars on my way home from Ma's. I have been well acquainted with the night sky since-- forever. And I've watched it at all hours in all seasons, often incurring parental wrath. But, darn it, tonight, I got completely disoriented. Completely. And it was very disconcerting. Standing there in the dark, looking up towards the north with the Big Dipper upside down overhead, I just couldn't get my bearings.

To the west and south I had no trouble. And overhead I knew Bootes with bright Arcturus standing at the end of the Bear's tail, and I saw Corona Borealis, and Ursa Minor, but after that...

I've been looking at the star charts. I probably shouldn't be so hard on myself. The constellations Draco, Hercules, Ophiuchus and Serpens aren't easy to pick out at the best of times, and the easy-to-find stars of Lyra, Cygnus, and Cassiopeia were low on the horizon, below the pine trees.

If the clear weather holds, I'll take the star chart out with me tomorrow night and reorient myself.

I've often wondered what it would be like to travel to the southern hemisphere and see a sky I've never seen before...

I wish I could know, just for a moment, how a Polynesian navigator feels, sailing upon the wide ocean, looking up at the whole of the starry sky, knowing where he is...

I've always appreciated that teeshirt with the picture of our spiral galaxy with an arrow pointing to a spot on the rim saying "You are here."


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