Saturday, November 19, 2016

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Several nights ago I was having a hard time going to sleep, and then staying asleep once I found my dreamland, so I spent some of the dark hours looking at the stars.  They are so bright and clear here in Ellenboro!  Even brighter and bigger than I remember from childhood when my Dad would try, with unending patience... even as I'm sure I unendingly tried his patience with just not getting it, to show me how to find the constellations of Idaho's night sky.  During my gazings, and trying to equate what I saw in the sky to what the Sky Map app on my phone told me I was looking at, I started to wonder at the imagination of whoever anciently decided which stars go together in that cosmic scale dot-to-dot we call constellations.  These are the stars of Capricornus.  You don't see that astrological goat the zodiac uses to symbolically describe the attributes of people like me who are born between mid-December and mid-January either?

Now?  Having the lines drawn in sure makes it easier to see...  My mind is still in awe at the idea that another human brain came up with this.  How did they pick one star over another, that our finite earthly sight, looks close enough to keep the same shape? And what inspired them to look for patterns among the stars?  What keeps us looking today?

I fully admit that any time I go outside at night, I look up.  And I can usually spot the Big Dipper, a part of the Ursa Major constellation, and sometimes even its smaller counterpart that features the North Star, Polaris, as the bright jewel of its handle.

That, sadly, is about the extent of my ability without the help of some sort of chart or map or more experienced star gazer.  I fear wouldn't get far if I had to navigate a trip using the stars... Thank goodness today our cells phone offer an app for that!

I was still star gazing at 1:00 am when the dogs decided they just had to go out.  With the door open to slip the lead onto Lightning's collar, I noticed one really bright star just over the top of the hill this little cabin faces.  I took a guess that it might be Sirius.  I was right!!  How appropriate to be greeted by the "dog star" on that particular errand!
When we were all settled under the blankets again, I noticed on my app how many planets were lined up on or next to the line identified as the ecliptic.  I don't know that this kind of planetary alignment has any special meaning or not, or that the planets were even all lined up anywhere but on my phone app, but it reminded me how big and very ordered this universe we call home really is.  And what a small bit of dust I am in it.  And yet my Bible and my experience tells me that I am important enough that the very God who created all this takes thought of me.  Even when I'm questioning and don't really feel like I've got much of His attention lately... Maybe that's the best reminder of all that I could draw from a night spent looking at the stars and wondering about what's really out there.

See how the Moon, Neptune, Mars, and Pluto are lined up?  Uranus was on the
same line beyond this screen capture beyond the Moon on the one side and
both Venus and Mercury were beyond Pluto on the other.  That faint line is noted
as the Ecliptic and points to the Sun.

And how amazing is it that we can see (maybe with the help of a telescope) so many strange and different worlds?  Wouldn't visiting them be an adventure to blog about?

(All photos in this post are screen captures from the Sky Map app for Androids.)

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