Friday, March 16, 2012

from here to infinity

I'm out at siding spring observatory for the next week.

never underestimate the power of duct ("gaffer") tape!

a stunningly bright planetary pair slowly peaks out of the darkening sky, as pale blue fades through sunset colors to deep black.

venus and jupiter are on show for an hour, then i have to retreat inside to work.

when i emerge again outside on the catwalk surrounding the telescope dome, the deep black darkness shocks my eyes. the moon has not yet risen and the current solar system show-offs have already set.

orion sits upside down while the southern cross reaches around the milky way. our galaxy begins to shoot across the sky and the two magellanic clouds shyly tag along for the ride.

i find mars quite easily in the eastern skies and notice my surprise at just how obviously red its reflected sunlight glows!

as my eyes dark-adapt, fainter dots begin to speckle the sky. i start to lose the three stars of orion's belt amidst the incredible number of stars. so many stars!

and these are just the stars i can see with my eyes, our solar neighborhood, a tiny fraction of all the stars that make up our milky way galaxy.

and there are billions and billions of galaxies in the universe! so. much. space.

and then it's that moment again, BAM! a swell of intensity, overwhelmed and slightly dizzy, as i realize just how big the universe is.


and just as quickly, i'm back on earth, looking at the solid black silhouette of our home planet stretching softly out to the horizon, where it touches the star-filled sky.

i love those moments.

for more of what's happening overhead right now at siding spring, check out show me stars!


Steve Hall said...

What a beautiful prose poem! And the pictures are great, too. :)

I know you have a Google+ account, but I don't think you've visited in awhile. There's a huge, great community of scientist and science lovers there, and I really believe you'd enjoy the engagement.

skywatcher88 said...

Hello Amanda:)
Tis a beautiful very very very... large place isn`t it.(The Universe)But hostile to us .All we have to live on so far is our tiny little blue marble.
Nice pictures.
I kinda think that Dark matter and Dark energy is the duct tape of the universe but only comes in universal camouflage color.
Peace and Cear Skies!