One of my photos

Watcher of the Skies

December 3rd, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 5 Comments · Life

This always seems to happen.  There was a major astronomical event yesterday and I was oblivious to it until afterwards.  It’s the same with the perseid showers most years: if by some miracle I remember they are happening its a really foggy and/or rainy night.

When I was leaving work yesterday I noticed the crescent moon, low in the sky and looking large.  I thought at the time that it looked unusually good, with a really bright star right next to it.  Had I known it was a once-in-a-lifetime grouping of the moon, Venus & Jupiter I would have got out the binoculars when I got home. Or the telephoto lens.

The thing is, that even without knowing what was going on, having no real interest for stargazing, and even with the amount of light pollution (and air pollution), I was drawn to the moon and felt there was something special about it.  I can see how the ancient civilisations came up with all those myths and theories: imagine how it was then with perfectly clear skies and no streetlights and the moon, which does exactly the same thing on a strict 28-day cycle for as long as anyone can remember suddenly doing something different.  And of course, people looked at the stars, sun and moon a lot more then.  They had to in order to navigate or tell the time.

Little wonder that the really spectacular stufff like comets and eclipses generated fear, awe, and religious panic.

Any more astronomical events to look forward to soon?

Tags: ··

5 Comments so far ↓

  • Jo

    Thank you! I couldn’t work out which stars they were but that explains it – not stars at all!

  • skud's sister

    Just got back from a few days away and we missed it too. Rob is out in the garden with his telescope and a very silly hat but I’m sure he’ll have some suggestions when he’s thawed out. We are almost always camping in a fairly dark field for the Perseids but the last couple of years have been at least cloudy (and, if Richard Thompson is playing Cropredy, pissing down). On our best year we not only saw many meteors but also got a really good look at the milky way.

  • Rob Glover

    Of course the Moon had a practical use as well. Long before streetlights existed, the Moon was the “parish lantern” – when it was out, the streets were a little safer and you were a little freer to move about at night.
    I missed the alignment but the 2 planets are still there of course. Anyway, the results of my night in the garden (see Jane’s post above) are now on my flickr page.

  • Rob Glover

    Just realised I didn’t answer your question – we have the Geminid meteor shower peaking on 13 Dec, and the Quadrantid meteors peaking on 3 Jan. Both been good in previous years, unfortunately the Moon is full on 13 Dec, but 3 Jan will have no Moon so you’re in with a better chance of seeing something then.

  • Creaginator

    Noticed that you wrote something about “The Sultan’s Elephant” not too long ago. I just posted about it myself here. Thought you might want to take a look.