Thursday, December 16, 2010

OUT OF PLACE

Most of my life I’ve lived in the Northwestern United States.
  On any clear night in the summer I can look to the 
southern horizon and see the constellation Scorpio.

I’m no expert on astronomy, but it’s fairly easy to pick out 
the big hook of its tail and the bright star Antares that marks the head.


In 2007 I traveled with a group to Southern Peru.  While we were there we visited a planetarium. We learned a little about how the ancient people of that part of the world studied the stars and planets and incorporated the night skies into their legends and navigation.

After the program the instructor went outside with us and pointed out the Southern Cross.

For people of the Northern Hemisphere this was a new and amazing sight.  Then I asked her to locate my old friend Scorpio.  She directed my eyes to a place straight overhead.  It was astonishing to see it so out of place. 

At this time of year, if I go for a walk in the morning it has to be in the dark.  Here in December sunrise doesn’t happen until after seven a.m.   A day or so ago the usual cloud cover was gone and the pre-dawn sky was the color of ultramarine blue, fresh out of the tube. 



Venus was so bright in the southeast 
that it looked like an incoming airplane’s landing lights.

I stopped to gawk at the brilliance of the winter sky 
and felt that same feeling of shock to see …

…the big dipper, normally riding along just above the northern horizon,
 now directly overhead.

7 comments:

Linda Sue said...

Let's go to Australia, Leenie- that sky would probably make us crazy...I miss the sky - living under a cloud has benefits- like the aliens have trouble seeing me but I do so miss the sky...

DayPhoto said...

I walk around 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. every evening. I just love the night sky! Great post!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

TALON said...

Lovely post, Leenie. I've always been a star-gazer so love seeing how the constellations change positons in the different seasons. I've never seen the Southern Cross, though. That must have been magnificent!

Kilauea Poetry said...

You put this together like a true artist! I love it- this is so fresh Leenie!!
I'm from S. California actually but now I've lived here longer (thanks to age) lol)) Gee..this looks fabulous and so engaging. Thanks..I'm going to be chewing on this tonight-

Kilauea Poetry said...

a true artist that you are (grin)..

frayedattheedge said...

I love a starlit night (although at this time of year that generally means it will be frosty!) As an aside, do you know that water runs down the plughole in the other direction in the Southern Hemisphere?

susan m hinckley said...

I can only reliably find the Big Dipper, but whenever I travel it's one of the first things I do when I go out at night. I've always loved to note the changing location. (I've never been able to find Scorpio, so I'm going to have to try that thanks to your diagram.) Lovely post, but it made me chilly . . . night in winter in MN . . . I know you understand what I'm talking about.