Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing,
As the freezing rain coats the leafless maple trees of the front gardens this Sunday evening, I watch the world turn slick, and gleaming from the yard lights. What snow that is still on the ground shines as if diamond dust has been sprinkled in the garden. Even the flag pole, out there by the little boy and girl holding the lighting bugs, is starting to look like a large glass rod. As I stepped onto the east deck, it was such a change from what was in the night sky, on January 21, 2013.
When you looked into the heavens, that night, the moon and Jupiter were within an inch of each other, directly overhead, in a cloudless sky. For those without a telescope, it don’t get much better than that, when ya stargaze without the telescope. And that’s just one of the little things ya can see in the night sky without a telescope. The moon and Jupiter within an inch of each other. But there’re really father apart, a lot farther apart. Yet when ya look at ‘em together, it don’t matter, ‘cause they’re one and the same, in the field of view. The moon and Jupiter, just an inch a part, in that cold night sky. That was a time when ya could hold your arm extended with a thumb up into the cold air and cover both a planet and a moon with one thumb. That’s something ya can’t do too often
One of the things I’ve done for a long time, weather permitting, is to stargaze on the first full night of the new year. This January 1st night was as cold as I’ve seen a while, a long while. Single digit ° by the time the EastWing Water Fall of Light clicked on for the night, at 4:06 in the PM. I just knew it would be a cold, cold night to stargaze. I also knew it may be one of the best nights of the year to stargaze. It was both.
A cold night to look into the stars was had by all. Now the “all” part of that statement was limited to myself, ‘cause the She don’t do stargazing. When I stargaze in the summertime, I’ve got lots of company on the north deck. The Gray Lady and Mr. Bentley love to go to the north deck and stargaze in the summertime. Even Sophia and Spike, The Man Cat, will tag along in the warm summertime darkness of the night. In the winter time, I’m by myself. ‘Course everyone knows that Sophia don’t do the cold.
When it comes to stargazing on the first full night of the new year, I’m a party of one on the north deck. I’m not saying I’ve got fair weather friends here at the EastWing, just saying I’m a party of one. Seems that both The Gray Lady and Mr. Bentley had planned to have a little late night football party for the late bowl game. Sophia said she had some mending to do. I don’t know what the hell cats mend, but Sophia had mending to do.
And Spike, The Man Cat, well, Spike, he just sucked it up and told the truth. Said it was just too damn cold for any self respecting cat that had an inside home to do something as stupid as hanging out on the north deck when the ° number outside was less than his body weight. And so I’ve started out 2013 with a new found respect for the Man Cat. Honesty is not one of the virtues of catdom. Which could be part of the explanation as to why so many cats go into politics.
And so it was that I stood on the north deck, that 1-1-2013 and turned my telescope toward a sector of space I’d never seen before. It was there, a site so spectacular it almost took my breath away. Even with NASA’s ability to look at the sky with the Hubble Telescope and all, only a small fraction of the sky has ever been observed by man.
Knowing that, and looking upon what could very well be the first observance by mankind, the chills came from the eyepiece of my telescope, not from the night air. Now that’s not saying the night air didn’t bring its own set of chills. Cause it did.
Fingers almost too numb to push the buttons, noses so cold ya can’t feel noses, cheeks too cold to feel cold. Yet you endure such as that, to look into the night sky. Looking into a spot in the heavens that maybe, just maybe, is first being seen by mankind, and that mankind is you.
When ya walk outside on a clear starry night in January and look up into the heavens, ya see a lot. When ya turn your telescope upon a selected spot in that starry night, ya see 10 times more. When you increase your ability to see more of the same, you see 10 time more again. And then 10 times more again. When you know you’re seeing 1,00,000 times more of the stars than when you just walked outside and looked up, and you know your field of view is just a very, very small slice of the Milky Way. And the Milky Way, well, the Milky Way is just a very, very minute slice of the Universe. A slice so small it hardly worth even talking about, other than the fact that’s where me and you hang out. Yeah we do, on this little dot out here in space we call Earth. Don’t know what the other folks call it, but we call it Earth. I’m sure they have a different name for us.
Every time I look into the stars with my telescope I cannot help but wonder, am I the only one looking, or is there somebody looking back at me at the same time. I do consider myself to be a Christian and a Catholic, and yes, I do believe there’s somebody looking back. Nothing in the Catholic Bible leads me to believe otherwise. For that matter, nothing in the King James Bible either. I just see too much thru this telescope to think all that creation was wasted on just Adam & Eve. The way I see it, God didn’t have to tell us ‘bout any other folks out there, didn’t need to, figured we’d work it all out later on. And so, if they are, we will.
Now for those who look forward to the spring time, the end of winter is in sight. Thirty plus a couple days and it’s March 1. The official start of spring in the EastWing. March 1st it’s always been so, the rest of the world catches up in two or three weeks.
A while back I talked about what I say being a never ending story, and how much I love saying what I say. Well yesterday I got an email asking if I was gona talk again about the Peeps of Springtime. It’s not February and folks wanting to talk ‘bout the Peeps of Springtime. I think I first said something about those Peeps three or four years ago, maybe five, I not sure. We may talk again, after all, Peeps of Springtime are happy little boy frogs looking for girl friends and I for one am always happy to hear ‘em singing in the spring. And two, I don’t know any boys not looking for girlfriends, come springtime. We may well talk of Peeps again and we may not, we’ll see. But first we’ll have to hear what the peeps have to say.
This year I figured if I started off sometime in January talking ‘bout stargazing, then the stargazing folks who visit the EastWing would cut me some slack on not talking ‘bout stargazing enough. “Course one can never talk too much ‘bout stargazing. The biggest problem I have here at the EastWing is the audience is limited. Most of the folks who visit the EastWing are not stargazers and as such could give a crap about that stuff. So for the stargazers who visit the EastWing, give me a break here. I’ll maybe talk stargazing again come July or August. Maybe at a time when the Man Cat will join me on the north deck. Lets just say after the August 12th light show from the sky.
Just a little tantalizing hint about big time stargazing stuff to come. There’ll be something of an unusual and spectacular nature to be seen in the sky before this year is done. When this thing becomes a topic of wide spread conversation, and even being reported on the nightly news, just remember, ya heard it first while hanging out in the EastWing.
Stay safe in Afghanistan.
From The EastWing, Starting Out The New Year Cold Stargazing, Beyond The Star of Stargazing, Looking Back At Me, Adam & Eve & The Peeps, The Light Show In The Sky
I Wish You Well,