Friday, January 12, 2007
Walking from the bus stop last night, something less than a mile through the cold night, I found Orion rising in the east, defining winter's night sky. This is perhaps the most easily identified constellation (with Scorpio) because of its three bright "belt" stars, a celestial configuration learned early by beginning amateur astronomers. I knew the major constellations long before I entered high school, this knowledge coming from my dad, a navigator in the Navy. I learned to use a sextant and by high school I had my own telescope, and no toy: a six-inch reflecting telescope (f12.5) that looked like a canon when mounted on the roof of our Packard Roadmaster for a weekend trip of stargazing and jackrabbit hunting in the Mojave desert. Orion also is of early interest to new telescope owners, a visible nebula hanging along its sword.
My favorite nebula to view with my telescope was the Ring Nebula in Lyre near the bright star Vega. A small smoke ring in the dark summer sky. I was an astronomy fanatic before and through my teens. Not until college, with its new demands on my time, did I stop regular star-gazing and stop my membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers, in which I was one of the few teenage members in the world.
Now and again I think of getting a telescope again (I donated mine to the small observatory run by the University of Oregon when I was a grad student there). I wonder if I will.
Posted by Charles Deemer at 4:23 AM