Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12: Night sky

In the backyard tonight braving the cold for a few minutes in hope of seeing some of the Geminid meteor shower. Clear sky on a new moon night, perfect for star-gazing. This pattern of constellations is the same one I first learned as a child studying the stars with a well-thumbed Golden Book--for me, the night sky's most familiar face. Over the roof peak poise the two stars of Gemini, Castor and Pollux; Orion climbs the sky beyond my neighbor's garden; Auriga, the Charioteer, pauses high over Mount Battie; the V of Taurus the Bull sits just below the blurred cluster of the Pleiades. And almost inside that V, bright Jupiter.

With binoculars, I can see three of Jupiter's four Galilean moons--the largest and brightest satellites of our largest planet--as well as the true redness of Aldebaran, the alpha star of Taurus. I don't expect to last long enough to see an actual meteor. But as I shiver and the cloud of my breath rises to the heavens, a quick falling star flashes behind a net of birch branches. I say "Thank you!" to the sky before rushing back into the warm house.

No need to make a wish.
This sky, these stars--
all I want right now.

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