Monday, March 26, 2012

Staring at the Sky

It's been quite a week, both celestially and terrestrially, for spectacular sights.  After reading this article in The Washington Post yesterday, I headed outside last night, soon after sunset.  Even in our light polluted skies, I could see the sliver of moon, the brightness of Jupiter nearby, with Venus beaming steadily above them.

I made my spouse come outside to look.  I got the camera and experimented with the night setting.

The night setting does expand the light and sometimes makes lit objects blurry, smeary, or jagged looking.  So, the planets expand into smears, instead of bright dots, the moon looks half full, instead of a sliver.  But you get the idea.

But how about here on earth?  If you live in the right part of the world, you're enjoying cherry blossoms.  Down here in South Florida, we have the yellow tab tree which has burst into full, buttery bloom.

I remember the first year down here, where these unremarkable trees suddenly flowered.  I asked my coworkers what they were, and they didn't know, and furthermore, seemed surprised that I was so enchanted.

The other morning, I saw one of the trees in full bloom, and a man beneath it, gazing up into its flowers.  He stood there for several minutes--maybe for even longer, since I drove away, and he was still staring up.

I don't have any pictures of my own for yellow tab trees, but if you go here, you'll see plenty.

I feel like I spend much of my life indoors, staring at screens.  And it's not just me:  "Owen Gingerich, a professor emeritus of astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said that the spectacle in the western sky is so beguiling that 'even our graduate students are aware of what’s happening.'  That’s an inside joke because graduate students in astronomy do all their work now on computers and with equations and don’t spend a lot of time acting like Galileo and looking through telescopes" (from The Washington Post article link above).

It's good to get out, to remember the enchantments of nature.


Lucille said...

Those yellow tab trees are lovely. I don't think I've ever seen one. I like the image of the guy staring up into the tree----do the blossoms last for very long? I do that with my magnolia. Those blossoms only last maybe a week, sometimes less if we get rain and wind.... I find myself in my window or below it just gazing up at it myself. Such short-lived loveliness....

And now that you've mentioned the western sky, I have noticed what I thought were two very bright stars...maybe it is Jupiter and Venus and I didn't know! I will have to check now, tonight, if the moon is out. (I'm in Connecticut).

Kathleen said...

Thanks for all this. I have been staring at the sky and the trees and blossoms, too. Last night I walked out the front door to find the moon and planets husband asking if that was me coming and going...