September 8, 2011
Time For My "Four Am Trek"
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?