stars

There is only one main thing I want to say about stars and that is this: I like them. I like looking at stars, I like watching them twinkle, and I like seeing them shoot across the night sky (I know, those aren’t actually stars, but shhh, there might be children present and you wouldn’t want to destroy everything they believe in, would you?). If you like stars as much as I do, then you need to find yourself on a plane to South Africa right now.  Do it. Did you click?

It’s worth it because at the bush house you are surrounded by miles and miles of nothing but bush.  There are a few houses right around you (maybe 3 or 4) but the lights are so dim that you’re not at all bothered. So you get some blankets and make a cozy little spot on the deck with the hippos only 100m away preparing for the nightly graze.  Then you just sit and gaze, watching more and more stars appear as your eyes adjust to the dark.  A cloud of light begins to show itself and you find it’s not dark at all anymore, the milky way and stars alone (because the moon doesn’t come out until nearly dawn) light the entire horizon.  You just sit and stare.

For someone who likes stars as much as I do, it’s surprising that I could never quite get the hang of constellations.  Yeah, I can see the big ones like the big and little dipper, the southern cross and Orion’s Belt (although not the rest of Orion, just his belt).  I sat there for 30 some minutes confused as heck while Freddy tried to point out Scorpio.  I finally got it, but if I tried to look again on my own…. no ways. Instead, I like to make my own constellations. Granted, most of them are smiley faces. Everyone would enjoy a happy night sky though, right? Take these fine specimens for example.

My Constellations

my constellations

I do tend to be somewhat of a night owl, but the stars at the bush house kept me up until 3am two nights in a row. That’s pretty late, even for me, but once you sit down and start looking you find there are literally a million things to see. And once you see a shooting star, your hooked. My first night I saw 11 shooting stars, the last one being so bright and impressive that I just quit watching after that, there was no point, it wasn’t possible to see anything better. The next night I didn’t even count the small shooting stars at all, there were way too many.
I was determined to take some star pattern photos, since the air was so clear.  For those of you who don’t know, if you leave the shutter of your camera open for an extended period of time, you’ll capture the movement of the planet rotating, which turns the stars into lines across the sky.  You can see in my photo where the southern axis is because all the stars seem to pivot around that point…. Pretty awesome, eh?  I left my shutter open for 30 minutes, but it takes the same amount of time to process all the light data it’s collected so this photo took an hour…. yikes. That’s why I only took one.

southern axis (10 min exposure)

The southern axis and Milky Way (30 minute exposure)

On our second night star-gazing, Freddy broke out the big guns in the form of binoculars. Looking at stars through binoculars = a whole new level of awesome. What once appeared to you as a hazy star now turns out to be a cluster of stars, maybe even a galaxy far, far away.  So my new game became finding galaxies to point out to Freddy.  One looked like a starfish, which we decided was a pretty good pun… get it? Starfish… funny right? We literally spent hours searching and studying every inch of sky finding view after view that absolutely amazed us, and making up new constellations with accompanying mythological stories. I think one was a puppy or a rabbit, and maybe we found a running horse, but that might have been in the clouds we were looking at earlier, my memories are getting fuzzy.

…. so anyway, this blog can be summed up like this: I like stars.

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