Last week I bought a fantastic deck of constellation cards. Each card has a constellation on the front, and its name and profile on the back. (The card on the box is Cassiopeia, Andromeda’s mother.) It tells you the its mythology, what the brightest or most interesting stars are, if there are any galaxies to look at, where its located and so on.
After the first day I could identify every card, but I am not sure I would be able to if it weren’t for the lines that join the dots. If it were just the stars on their own, I don’t think I’d recognise them so easily.
Still, it’s made me pretty confident and is a great way to stay in touch with the sky and practice astronomy even while I don’t have the energy to go out. I think it could be a good idea to start drawing them, and anchor them to my memory.
Tonight was the lunar eclipse. I used all my energy and effort sitting on the concrete step in the garden, watching the thickly woven blanket of clouds with my green-eyed black cat. No moon or sky could get through the grey weave but I enjoyed the anticipation and the air, and I started to think about this goal.
43Things needs a save for later option in addition to done and I give up. I am not done and I don’t want to give up, but I have so many goals on my list that I want to keep but that distract and clutter my attention. I’m not sure whether to tick this one done, or hang onto it for a while longer…
Unfortunately it is foggy here, but did anyone else see the supermoon tonight? The next one will be on November 14, 2016.
The spacecraft Voyager will be leaving our solar system soon. It is 10.712 billion miles away from home. It is so far away, in fact, that the sun looks like just another star to it now. It has enough power to keep traveling and operating its radio transmitters until 2025.
I find this not only incredible, but beautiful too.
I wonder how many other planets have sent similar spacecraft out in the quest for knowledge?
There is going to be a full lunar eclipse on December 21st. December 21st is the winter solstice, and a full eclipse of the moon won’t happen again on the winter solstice for over 80 years.
Enjoy it if you can! Here in the UK you can begin to see it before the sun rises, but to enjoy it fully you need to be in America. You will be able to see it in both north AND south America, so check out what time it will be in your area to see it.
I wrapped myself up and stood on the doorstep with binoculars to look at the full moon tonight. It was nowhere near as good as looking through Jon’s telescope, but I could see the grey luna mare on the bright white surface. Through Jon’s telescope the moon was MASSIVE. I mean, absolutely HUGE. By coincidence it was full moon that night too. It was perfect.
Whenever I see the moon I remember that night and I smile.
I love this picture: it’s of a landscape that could be anywhere. It’s barren, there are a lot of rocks and the looks sky is incredibly grey and dusty. You’d never guess that this dull place is called The Plane of Utopia.
In fact, it’s a pretty unremarkable picture until you realise what you’re looking at. This photograph was taken in a desert 35 million miles away from where you are now: it’s a photograph of a desert on Mars.
If you’ve seen Mars you’ve probably only seen it as a dot in the sky, and even then the chances are that you probably thought it was just another star. The most consideration most people give to Mars is when reading their horoscope in a magazine (Watch out Taurus, your hot head could spell bad news for your love life this week!) but this photograph brings Mars home: it’s tangible. You could touch those rocks, you could sift that sand through your fingers.
It’s a place you can go to, a place you can stand in and feel the knobbley rocks rock and role under the soles of your shoes as you walked around. Mars has texture, a smell and a reality you can relate to.
It blows my mind.
The light pollution where I am tonight is terrible. I stepped outside (inspired by finding this website and the BBC’s Sky At Night on TV) at around 11.30 and the sky was so orange it looked like dawn.
I had instructions to find the Big Dipper (easy), keep going until I got to Leo turn and find Cancer where Mars is hanging out right now. I hope tomorrow the visibility will be better, I want to get my binoculars out!
(Oh, and Sir Patrick Moore is so Posh I can’t help but love him)
NA: Go out everyday and look at the moon and see how it moves across the sky. This gives you a sense of the reality of astronomy in a way you can’t get from a book.
Interviewer:What would the value in that be aside from that it’s beautiful and magnificent?
NA: To believe in the reality, to believe that there is something out there. It’s sounds silly but most people are caught in their own heads; if you go out there and look at it everyday, all of a sudden the universe becomes something that you appreciate as something apart from yourself that has reality… ...Science is going to enrich your life, but it’s not going to give your life meaning. You need to give your life meaning, but it’s important to realise if you give your life meaning in some ways you give the whole universe meaning. We’re part of it. Science will enrich your appreciation for all the connections between things: it’s amazing.
My dad bought me a Planisphere for Christmas. It’s a mess of stars and dots, most of which are obscured in my orange-smudged city sky, but I can’t stop thinking about what I saw last month in Devon when Jon brought his sister’s telescope outside.
It was a crystal clear night when we pointed the lens at the moon. It was so magical it looked unreal: luminous white, mountainous craters curving over its right edge and impact points where moon dust had scattered and scarred the surface.
I looked away with the brightness of the moon still dazzling my eye: the moon has never been so real, so marvellous or so huge. The scale of the thing! The moon is a place! You can go there, stand on it, look at the earth from it! Sure, I knew that before, but I was so used to that idea that I never realised it before. Not really.
The moon is a lump of rock, as white as an empty skull and just as dead, but it’s also the most alive thing I’ve ever seen.