Last night while checking out the weather forecast on the Weather Network, the announcer mentioned that this year was the International Year of Astronomy. The guest astronomer talked about what neat stuff that could be seen in the night sky in Winter in the northern hemisphere, and encouraged people to go outside and look up, in the spirit of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's use of the telescope.
Then this morning, while listening to the news, I heard about IYA2009 again, and this time the astronomer was encouraging to take a look at Jupiter, saying that Galileo was the first to discover it had moons, with nothing but a low powered telescope.
On the way home from grocery shopping this evening Gord and I saw what we thought must have been Jupiter in the southwest horizon. We talked about taking my telescope outside and checking it out. I have a neat telescope I bought with money I saved from my part time job in Grade 9 - it is a bulbous little thing but it gets the job done for the amateur astronomy I'm interested in. By the time we were ready to head outside Jupiter had sunk below the horizon, but even with my little birding binoculars I got to see the orangy tones of Betelgeuse and the bluish hue of Rigel in the constellation of Orion. And the moon is full as well - just gorgeous with the naked eye, and nicely detailed in the sights of my binoculars. I'll get the telescope up and ready a bit earlier tomorrow night, keeping my fingers crossed for clear skies, so I can catch Jupiter before it sets.
Looking up at the stars always makes me feel connected with the bigness of the universe, just like paying attention to my breathing can give me a feeling of connectedness with the smallness of the molecules I breathe in and out. I like that.
Have you looked up, way up, lately?
Picture of Orion courtesy NASA.