Stars and not celebritiesJan 11th, 2008 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
If you’ve come here from Bishop David’s website, the page to which he refers is yesterday’s post. Click on ‘Older posts’ to go back one day!
I found two dogs and a hare last night.
The view from our backyard is very limited; the buildings around, and the county council’s insistence that streetlights at our corner must be bright enough for drunken clubbers returning home at three in the morning to find lost contact lenses in pouring rain, mean that the bit of sky where stars are visible is fairly small. Add to the narrow area of sky my complete ignorance of matters astronomical, and the prospect of finding anything is pretty remote.
Last night after ten, I stood out and watched my little segment of the sky. My daughter taught me how to find Orion last summer, his belt of three stars being distinctive. I can now align my telescope using two of Orion’s stars – Rigel and Betelgeuse. I found Canis Major, Canis Minor and Lepus – the big dog, the little dog and the hare. This is primary school stuff, but for someone who never got beyond doing a CSE in General Science, it was pleasing.
I stood with my hands pushed deep into my fleece pockets and smiled at the sky. I like the stars, they put things into a proper perspective.
I think I understand why many scientists are different, oblivious to fashions, trends and material things; you start calculating things in Light Years and anything here is so insignificant in comparison that it’s hardly worth getting worked up about.
My favourite scientific voice is that of the astronomer Professor Colin Pillinger. He has not the slightest worry about looking like some slick city executive and he talks with the unmistakable West Country accent of home. He is a man who is completely secure.
Life is much happier watching the sky and not the television.