September 8, 2011

Time For My "Four Am Trek"

I found out it has been 12 years too this month I have been observing. When I was first learning the skies and getting out there exploring with "Vista" my new 5 inch newtonian reflector (let's not forget the irritating shaky tripod mount). As I was saving up for my 8 inch dobsonian I was using Vista to get better at aiming my finder-scope I discovered something amazing.

I was getting pretty good at the constellations and managed to get them down packed and just learning how to hunt down deep sky objects. I was tired  one night and it was getting cold out there so I was also feeling lazy (I hate being cold) so I went to bed. Later around 4:10am I awoke feeling and feeling like going outside so
I grabbed my bag with my books, charts, eyepieces etc in it, threw a big cozy knitted sweater on and  when I stepped out and looked up and a brand new starry sky was there.

The stars were so much brighter, bigger and I was stunned, unable to set another foot  forward to drop my bag onto my picnic table and turn on my radio as I usually did. I just stood there amazed at the spectacular display of heavenly lights of patterns I did not recognize above me.

After 20 minuets  I set up my scope and stuff and flipped on my radio for some night music and good company and got my charts out to discover ... What the what??? I looked at the patterns, I did not recognize any patterns! This is not the same sky I explored last night?  So I looked up and tried to see if anything looked slightly familiar, wait that looks like a stick figure, it is Orion. I remembered it from my books I was looking at. How can it be, it is summer and winter stars are up?

Wow I discovered the winter sky is up in the summer! A four in the morning surprise. So I learned what was what for an hour then started to look at all the stars of Orion and the Great Orion Nebula, all the stars of Taurus the bull and just when I was happily exploring the Pleiades the sun started to rise. Pretty cool moment to experience when in my eyepiece I still see darkness of the night sky and yet dawn was very present.

So for that month of September I would go out three times a week at least to explore the winter, not in winter clothes, mitts and hat, but in short, socks and a t-shirt.  This year now that I am once again deep into my observing I look forward too my yearly four am trek. To this day I still feel the awe of the winter stars, no matter how many times I do my trek, the star are so renewed  looking and takes my breath away leaving my neighborhood  hearing a loud "Wow! amazing. Look at the stars!" from my backyard.

How about you, ready to give it a try?


Stargeezer Jake said...

OMG! A pleasure to read! I just set my alarm for 4 am as it sounds WONDERFUL!!

Wow I loved it, such a good read Niteskygirl. Loving your old ways from when you first began, loving that your adding random old observations too.

Simply a great read. my fave part:

and flipped on my radio for some night music and good company

FANTASTIC! Cannot wait for the next one!

Meteor Mike said...


Alex said...


Daryl said...

Love it! Setting an alarm for 4am right now! You blog is inspiring.

NiteSkyGirl said...

I would love to hear how you did Daryl!

Orly said...

RE:How about you, ready to give it a try?

I love it when she gets us inspired.
I am thankful she is back!

She is a great person! :)

Paulie said...

No getting up at 4 AM for me. I'm already awake. :D

The "winter" constellations are just spectacular. So many bright stars, and nice asterisms. To walk out and look up and see the winter stars is it's own little thrill.

NiteSkyGirl said...

You went out there!! That's great, walking out there and looking up I can still feel it!

Thanks for sharing! Loved it!