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Ummm…about yesterday


Did you miss me? Um, yesterday. When I didn’t post. No really, I didn’t. First time I’ve missed a weekday since I moved the blog to its own URL.

Oh, well. What happened was, we finally had the neighbors over for booze and munchies. And after we drank them under the table and they wobbled home, we stayed up burning stuff in the chimenea and looking at the stars until the wee hours.

We hadn’t done that before. We’re well away from a city of any size and have next to nothing in the way of light pollution. It’s almost as dark here as where I grew up in Possum Testicle, Tennessee. I had hoped to make a whole night of it for the peak of the Perseids, but — of course! — it was overcast on the 12th/13th.

Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a sky like that! Milky Way and everything. And then I spent today being hungover. It’s an all-day job, that.

The cars? They were just sitting in the parking lot of the supermarket. Must have been on their way to a classic car meet of some kind. Lots of that around here.

Did you know the Model T had wooden wheels? Very cool.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 19, 2009, 6:26 pm

Holy cow! We just worked out what we were looking last night: Jupiter and its four moons! My stargazing book says you can see them with binoculars, and that’s what we were using.



Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 19, 2009, 6:37 pm

Stroo. I have a pair of image stabilised Canons and though the lenses aren’t up to Zeiss, Leitz or Swarovski standards, the image steadying is remarkably useful in situations like this.

Couldn’t believe how clearly you could see these four shining dots, just to Jove’s side.

Comment from armybrat
Time: August 19, 2009, 8:46 pm

When I lived out in the country(nearsest neighbor was a mile away) in Kansas, we had a hot tub that beckoned to us (and the beer) to sit and enjoy the stars at night. But I have to say that I don’t think I’d ever seen a sky full of stars…and the milky way, and planets and shooting stars, etc…until we were sitting under the stars in a campground outside of St. Johns,AZ.

Comment from Tesla
Time: August 19, 2009, 9:27 pm

Sounds like you used your time quite well. Nighttime, under the stars, meteors, booze. Brings back some good memories. We cured our hangover the next day with a skydive. Works well if you have the option.
Oh yeah, wooden wheels get termites.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 19, 2009, 10:04 pm

wooden wheels get termites

Rubber innertubes get punctures; solid rubber tires abrade; metal wheels corrode. Nothing lasts–even the Deacon’s Wonderful One-Hoss Shay only made it to 100 years, and then it fell all to bits.

Sweasel, it’s been almost 50 years since I stargazed, but you did bring back memories. How glorious to live where you can see so much of the universe from your own back yard!

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 20, 2009, 1:02 am

Yeah it was overcast for the meteor shower here too. In fact, as long as I’ve lived in Oregon I can remember maybe twice it hasn’t been.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 20, 2009, 2:00 am

You guys must be a long way out of town. I’ve never lived anywhere in the UK where street lighting didn’t wash out anything below 3rd magnitude. The spot up in the dales where we had our robot telescope was pretty dark (I wrote some of the driver software for its CCD camera, so had occasion to visit) but only sheep could live there.

A long while go I was at the beach (Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica) and enjoying a truly spectacular buzz (back then beer was 40p a bottle). I was lying on the sand watching the phosphorescence as the waves broke on the shore. Suddenly the power went out to the whole town (probably a wild lightning strike on a substation). Man, it was dark. For the first time in my life I genuinely got the sense of being a little tiny insect stuck on the side of an enormous ball hung in the middle of a terrifyingly huge void. I felt like I had to hang on lest I be flung off into space. It was outstanding. The stars looked 3D (I know they’re not, visually, but the sense of depth was incredible).

Lying on a Pacific beach gazing at the stars while ripped to the tits: it is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend taking the opportunity.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 20, 2009, 7:42 am

Ohhhh…I’ve only seen a phosphorescent sea once. I remember my dad standing to his waist in the surf and churning it with his hands for us.

We’re a short way from a town of a few thousand that doesn’t offer much light pollution and a long way from a city that does. I would agitate for a telescope, but I had a really fine one as a child and it…wasn’t as much fun as I hoped. It was good enough that you could make out the rings of Saturn and the red spot of Jupiter. But squint and make them out, you know?

The moon, though. Jesus, the moon was wonderful through that thing!

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 20, 2009, 12:53 pm

I worked on the precursor to this, which rather spoilt amateur astronomy for me. Even then you probably need to spend seven figures on a telescope to get decent planetary images.

Comment from Timothy
Time: August 20, 2009, 4:38 pm

The most beautiful night sky I have ever seen was from a US Navy ship in the Indian Ocean on a moonless night! It was spectacular….awe inspiring.

The dolphins would race in toward the ship leaving tracks of phosphorescence (like torpedos in old WW films) and ride the bow wave.

Sometimes I miss being at sea.

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: August 20, 2009, 4:55 pm

Weasel – Years ago (when the world was in black & white), I camped on the beach with friends in Trafalgar, Spain. The most breathtaking sky I had ever seen except for nights at sea.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 20, 2009, 5:42 pm

Sorry, Timothy. The filter held that until I kicked it loose, and I have no idea why.

I’ve never been on the sea at night. I’ve only ever been on the sea once or twice in my life. I was nine the first time I saw the sea and 18 the second time.

It’s a very perplexing thing to me, the sea.

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