Monday, July 12, 2004

Points of light blog.

On Saturday night, after we finished watching the Stooges at 9 p.m., Lilly and I went out to see different kinds of stars, real ones, at Spring Valley Nature Preserve (which I’ve written about before; see June 21, 2004). It was astronomy club night, meaning that a couple of guys who’d built their own telescopes had positioned them in a dark part of the preserve, about a quarter-mile from the visitor’s center, and the public was invited to come see. Lilly and I represented about 20% of the total public there at the time, so there was plenty of opportunity to look into the eyepieces, and at the celestial objects the sky aficionados had picked.

I forgot to ask the specs of these scopes, but they seemed to be fairly powerful for amateur astronomers of seemingly ordinary means. First, we saw Vega. I’ve long liked that star, but the truth is, a bright star in a telescope is just a very bright blob of light. More subtle was the Ring Nebula, which was barely visible, but there. We were told that was a hard one to catch sight of in the light-washed suburbs. We also saw a binary system whose name I forget, but it was in Vega’s neighborhood. Lilly had to stand on a stepladder to see in the eyepieces, and it took her a while to learn to look into them so that she could actually see something. But she did see the twin stars.

That part of the preserve was darker than even our house at night with all the lights off, and Lilly was scared of the dark, holding my hand fast the whole walk to and from the lighted parking lot. The path, a small service road, passes through restored prairie acreage. A light wind rustled the grass. Occasionally small animals crept audibly nearby. Fireflies were everywhere. I’d never seen so many blinking at one time, several every second in the waves of tall grass. If the modest population density of fireflies in suburban yards is indeed suburban, then this tall grass was a city of fireflies.


Post a Comment

<< Home