Saturday, June 20, 2009

Celestial Sights

Winter is a day away bringing the dark so much sooner and so much deeper; the moon has waned to a sliver; and from the eastern dawning horizon, Matariki (Pleiades, known in Chinese as 昴星团) has again reappeared. and there I was by the obelisk this morning to see it.

It was by a whim that I was there on One Tree Hill. A few nights ago I had had a sudden desire to go to the Stardome for their show and finally got there last night. Upon exiting, I picked up a pamphlet saying that the Matariki Breakfast was on the 20th. I made enquiries and only mid-question did it dawn on me that that date fell today (i.e., the following day). Coincidence alone is enough for me so I booked it, slept and burst out of bed at 5:20am to head to One Tree Hill.

The night sky this morning was beautifully clear. More surprising was the arrangement: Venus and Mars clustered together; Mercury near Aldebaran lining up Matariki; Jupiter overhead beaming brightly. In other words, beyond just being a great day to spot the eponymous constellation, it was a brilliant day to look at planets and the sky. The group of 80 plus people were quite sociable and I chatted with lots of people and even made a friend. My $30 purchase of secondhand binoculars the previous day was well worth it as I spotted Matariki early and got to enjoy it as well as share around my lenses.

Another burst of astronomical yearning is again upon me. I have been looking at telescopes in shops again. And I'm very close to buying one. I was glad to get the binoculars even though they are a little out of focus when using both eyepieces at stars. (I use one eyepiece for the stars.) The binoculars have also fed into my nature-obsession too, being of particular use at Ambury Regional Park yesterday.

Winter Solstice and Matariki signposted a huge change to my life last year, so this weekend will be a time for contemplation.

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