James Paulson's roll off roof observatory at the Sunridge Observatory site, taken in the summer of 1986, housing a 10 inch f/5 Cave Astrola Newtonian reflector telescope

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuning In to Tune Out

Tonite I went outside for a bit with the scope. I had taken it out and gotten it all ready for alignment and cooldown and was just sitting there watching as the first stars began to appear in a blue sky. When I was younger, this was all taken for granted, you know, the sun sets, the stars come out, bright ones first then as the sky blackens you see more and more until you reach mag 6.

But the last few times, or should I say, since I came back to the hobby, as I sit out there watching all of this happen, a lot of weird thoughts come through my mind. Thoughts like, you know, this is amazing how we can see these suns of other worlds in a complete blue sky. Those must be some huge suns. And that our day star is merely brighter than the other stars, and how its presence blots out the ability to discern the other suns. Then my mind wanders to those planetary civilizations who are part of multiple star systems, who may not have a night, and may not be able to even perceive that there is a universe out there, whose systems of time are completely different from our own. For it is the rotation of the earth that determines the sky we see, the lack of a sun in the sky that allows us to see it. Suddenly each of these pinpoints of light that are becoming visible suddenly become that much more important, and what I do on Tuesday that much less. I feel a connection with the cosmos that is not only familiar, it's literally the neighborhood, to know where to find Vega, Spica, Arcturus, etc, and to know a little about each of those places.

As the sky darkens and the telescope slews to its targets, and some special visiting points of interest are revealed I am amazed at how much is out there. I am intrigued at the thought that visually, this may be a treat, but in reality, this is some huge thing, so distant, that it's not merely a point of interest, it is something even larger than our own solar system. Lately I have taken a liking to star clusters, remnants of birth, of age, and wonders of beauty with stars of incredible anonimity. The significance of this all is very humbling. In it all, it's hard to even comprehend that I am a living part of the universe, actually comprehending it discretely and seperately.

Sights numberous, M57, M27, M5, the Lagoon, Trifid and more. The wonders of the summer milky way never cease to amaze.


  1. I feel a kindred spirit in your words. I went through the same thing in the 90's. A great reawakening! Astronomy will do that, especially if you, like me, were sensitized to the night sky as a young boy.

    I don't get the overwhelming feeling anymore, perhaps because I do it too much, but it still stirs me.

    Great to hear your words.


  2. This makes me ponder even deeper. If the folks on other worlds with multiple suns never have the opportunity to see beyond there own atmosphere. Most of them, if not all, could be unknowingly ignorant to the universe that is out there. How ignorant are we? Is there something that is hindering our vision from a common connection to the unknown universe?

    Great blog...