Watching the night sky

March – especially with the balmy weather we enjoyed this month in DC – was a lovely time to observe the planets and stars in rarely-seen configurations. (A guide to what you can see is here.) Sometimes I spend so much time on my laptop that I need to be prompted by newspaper articles to look up!

I love David Brendan Hopes‘ description (from his book A Sense of the Morning) of looking through a high-powered telescope for the first time. As he is also an accomplished poet, his prose is rich with image and sound, and best read aloud:

The woman guiding my progress through the heavens says, with appropriate ceremony, ‘That is the elliptic.’ I look, devouring, unable to get enough. It is not what I expected. Not dust and smudge, but levitating hearths, splendor, vacancy, magnetic seas enveloping worlds of ice, continents racing across gulfs of fire, crystal mountains ten miles high…I was in love, with the telescope, with the smell of crushed grass, with the woman whose hand rested on my shoulder as I looked. Before you accuse me of frivolity, let me point out that it is a usual theme of legends that one’s heart goes to whoever brings the most precious gift. My friends have been generous to me, but that was a gift of Immensity and Fire.

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