Wednesday, 23 December 2009

I Really Am an Earth-Centric Moron Sometimes

There I was on Sunday night, raving about the stars in the winter sky with my oldest friend, when my imagination was caught by a cluster of 10 - 13 stars shimmering in the frost. "Pleiades?" I wondered. Indoors we went and I looked up some star maps. Now of course these charts are shown with N S E W etc. So, knowing I was looking south, I mentally reversed the map so I was heading in completely the wrong direction and I've spent a day wondering where the hell in Canis Major this amazing cluster is.

In other words what I did was look at the map of the heavens like a map of the ground, as if I was outside looking in towards earth. Where really, south on the map means the map looks like that to the south.

Or in really simple language, a star-map is designed to be held above your head, not on your lap.

You may think I'm beating myself up unnecessarily, but that sort of thing on my part really irks me. (And yes, it was the Pleiades - and a wonderful night for seeing them).



Other news, I've calmed down considerably over the last two days. Sleeping again too (thank goodness). Six weeks of crap sleep is long enough.

Just spent the evening reading 'Clockwork' by Philip Pullman to the boys. I would have loved to have seen a German Expressionist Silent film based on that story, if a time-machine could be invented. Or an early Svankmayer's take on it.

Maybe I'm not earth-centric after all if I'm visualising being on the outer fringe of the universe looking in and through these stars towards earth. Hmmmm.

Take care all, and merry whatever it is you celebrate. I like to nod to the solstice (hence the snow-bathe) and the traditional xmas. Just because I've been an atheist all these decades doesn't mean I don't enjoy all the trappings (like most art) that comes attached to Christianity and all the other religions.

Dx

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