On another of my sites, Weekends in Paradelle, I write weekly essays on things that interest me. Looking over the stats for that site recently, I realized that I have written quite a number about celestial observations. In this category you will find observations about each month’s Full Moon, equinoxes, solstices, meteor showers, stars, planets and other things out in the huge universe.
I suppose I always had some interest in those topics. I loved going to planetariums. I bought a few decent telescopes. But I can’t say that I am very knowledgeable or “educated” on these topics. I will watch Brian Greene or Neil deGrasse Tyson and other scientists and I am fascinated and I learn new things. But ask me about them the next day and I seem to have forgotten it all. I have written about the equinoxes twice a year for the past few years, and yet when I start a piece on the next one, I find myself going back to check the facts on what the equinox means and the science behind it.
So, why make these celestial observations? It started when my sons were quite young. I wanted them to know the names of the plants, trees, fish, birds and animals that we see around us. I also wanted them to know what was above us in the heavens. I know that I lay back in the summer grass as a child and looked at stars and sometimes saw a falling one. I think I knew that was a meteor, but I definitely didn’t know it was the Perseids or why it was happening. I wanted my sons to know.
It also probably was motivated by a period of Zen study and trying harder to “live in the moment” and be more aware of things. I don’t think people pay very much attention to the natural world above and below them – certainly not as much attention as they pay to their smartphone or television. That’s saddens me.