Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Last Light

Last night the sky was glorious, the serene beauty overpowering the light pollution and clutter of our civilization. The horned moon low in the west, almost a true Cheshire smile, cast a mellow light above the skyline, and in the east, Orion rising on his ancient westward trek across the winter heavens. The atmosphere was so clear that red Betelgeuse and blue Rigel were colorful beacons anyone would have recognized had they only looked.

The Pleiades and Cassiopeia were above Ginger's barn, but it was Jupiter, seemingly stationed directly above me, that crowned the sky. It seems a profound evolutionary mistake that human beings only have a few decades beneath the living skies.

I recently learned that eventually the Light will go out in the universe, when all of the hydrogen is consumed by the uncountable stars. I imagined the last remaining burning star, the ultimate ending flame of light in an infinite expanse of utter darkness at the end of time. It made me incredibly sad. Nothing lasts forever - not winter, not life, not sadness, not happiness, not even light.

M74: The Perfect Spiral Credit & Copyright: Descubre Foundation, Calar Alto Observatory, OAUV, DSA, V. Peris (OAUV), J. L. Lamadrid (CEFCA), J. Harvey (SSRO), S. Mazlin (SSRO), I. Rodriguez (PTeam), O. L. (PTeam), J. Conejero (PixInsight).


Li'l Ned said...

I too have been watching Jupiter, astonishingly bright amongst the other stars. Recently we have had a series of clear (and cold!) nights with clean air. The stars are so huge and bright they knock my socks off when I go outside after dark. Yesterday, awakened at 2:00 am by the realization I had not turned the heater on in the greenhouse, I went outside in the altogether to save my geraniums. Orion was overhead and I stopped short, struck in mid-stride to stare up at it. Shivering, I stood and found other constellations. I think there is some kind of cosmic humor at work, that has set the most spectacular constellations in the WINTER sky, when it is too damned cold to spend time outside admiring (or even worshipping) them. Summer nights are short, and with the exception of Scorpio and Sagittarius (admittedly most excellent constellations), there's nothing to match Orion, Taurus and the other winter marvels.

Jackie said...

I believe most star gazers don weather appropriate clothing.... but I have never been to Oregon, so maybe its different out there.