15 3 mins 11 yrs

I read Mahons touching post yesterday with great interest. Whilst ATW is a blog that deals with political issues in the main, that does NOT mean it cannot cover other issues. The rule is that there are no rules. As you know, there are many more important things in life than politics.

Last night, I arrived home later than normal, and as we are now well into Autumn, it was dark. I live in the country so there are no street lights and the only illumination comes from passing cars.  Ever since I was a boy, I have always been interested in Astronomy, and I looked up at what was a very starry sky, glistening above me. All the Constellations were on show, with the Milky Way very clearly discernible, along with Sirius, the brightest star in our sky, twinkling in the sky. All that vastness up there, all that amazing space, and all so very far away.

When my father died in 2007, I recall g regularly going out into my garden and looking up at the same sky. Where had he gone – the man who had been there to advise me all my life? Truth is, I believe he had gone further than the most distant star I could see – and yet even though he was gone a part of him lived on in me, how I behave, what I think and believe. So close, so far. I used to stare up at those heavens, wondering was he in heaven.

I find the mystery of life and death one that is never far from me. My faith helps me, but I have my moments when I simply don’t know what to think. One of my Dad’s favourite songs was Don McLean’s “Vincent” the opening line of which is “Starry Starry Night….” and last evening, I looked up at those stars that Van Gogh had also studied and spend a little time in quiet reflection.

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15 thoughts on “STARRY STARRY NIGHT

  1. “along with Sirius, the brightest star in our sky, twinkling in the sky”

    David, what you almost certainly saw was not Sirius (unless you came home VERY late), but Jupiter which is now by far the brightest “star” in the evening sky in our part of the world. It’s also bright yellow and rises around 1 hour after sunset, and an hour or so later can be seen from anywhere. A small telescope or good pair of binoculars will show you the famous four moons – they are visible as four bright diamonds, two on each side of the planet.
    Or rather were – I was watching them last week and one (Io I reckon) is getting closer to the planet’s shadow, so now probably only 3 will be visible.

    I urge everyone to grab your binoculars and find a dark spot where you can see this beautiful phenomenon – the discovery of which by Gallelio changed our world.

    Jupiter is now very close to the Pleiades, and your binoculars will show the group as a patch of glittering jewels.

  2. David,
    What I find interesting is the spiders’ webs of thought and conjecture which bind groups of people together. They are personal, familial, conscious and unconscious, intuitive, cultural, educational and religious.
    There are those who like to pretend that it’s all so simple. They mockingly refer to sky pixies and religious superstition. Yet life IS a mystery, and who I am or you are is not as simple as it seems. I am not now a practicing Christian, and sometimes I wonder “is there a God? How DID all this come about anyway, and is there any real purpose to it?”
    I also wonder whether there are in fact other dimensions and states of being that we cannot detect because we haven’t got the right ‘equipment’ to see it. Perhaps our loved ones do indeed move to another state of existence, or perhaps they just cease to be.

    I have not given up on redicovering the faith I once had, but being somewhat of a perfectionist, perhaps my expectations are too high. My sister once said,
    “Nothing is the same the second time around.”

  3. Noel,
    Nice knowledgeable post about the stars.
    In light of our recent exchanges
    I have to ask you this….

    Were you around when they discovered Uranus? 😉

  4. “Were you around when they discovered Uranus? ”

    Agit8ed, whence all the recent wit?

    Have you given up “The Complete World of Shakespeare” for those of Oscar Wilde?

  5. Looking at a beautiful starry sky does fill one with awe and of course the heavens are associated with the ‘heaven’ we are believed to go to when we die. I don’t think I really believe that. I, like all the rest of you, have lost family very near and dear to me – one in the very room where I sit now. But my theory, for what it’s worth, it that they do live on in that parallel existence that Agit8ed describes. Why should that not be true? I do believe absolutely in the immortality of the soul and like David says they live in us. In the case of parents the way they brought us up stays with us forever. This is my experience anyway and their beliefs mould our own. The theory that they are still around is probably (definitely) the basis of spiritualism where we try to contact them. We all search for them somewhere when the truth is that their souls are with us forever and I find that to be a comfort.

    On a lighter note I see myself turning into my mother with each day that passes!

  6. The problem with living in a city is that there is so much light ” pollution ” that the stars are not really visible at all.

  7. David, what you almost certainly saw was not Sirius (unless you came home VERY late)

    Yes, Sirius was not visible last night until after 2.00 am. But Jupiter is visible in the east from just after dark, my favourite planet to look at. And of course the Pleiades “Seven Sisters” is a beautiful object. With binoculars you can see dozens of stars in this group. And of course this is well outside our galaxy.

  8. Noel,
    I thought it was pretty funny myself!
    I told you before, Shakespeare is beyond me. I am either not intelligent enough, not soulful enough, or whatever. Oscar Wilde I have never read, nor wanted to.
    At the moment I enjoy books by Daniel Silva and Vince Flynn.
    The Idiot’s Guide to Patio Laying held me enthralled for a short time, and finding ways to annoy you is proving to be a good page turner.
    Tomorrow I shall be immersed in Rugby, fence erecting and irritating my next door neighbour by listening to Question Time on Radio Four at the same time…
    Here in deepest Norfolk, the night sky is so clear that I can watch satellites, aeroplanes and other unexplained lights move soundlessly through the emptiness of space. I’m guessing that the lights that don’t move are stars?

  9. Marlloy,
    “On a lighter note I see myself turning into my mother with each day that passes!”
    Depending on your Mother, that may be no bad thing…. 😉
    Nice poetic touches in your post BTW.

    I particularly liked..
    “Looking at a beautiful starry sky does fill one with awe..”
    When I was a kid I remember lying in bed and trying to get my little (well okay, bighead around the concept that I could never ever come to a brickwall in space whereon a sign proclaimed,
    “The Universe Ends Here…”

  10. Thank you Peter.
    I am downloading the demo version now. I have a cheapo telescope ready to set up once I get orientated in the back garden. I know it faces West, and I can see the Plough, so it will be interesting to use the programme to identify more planets and constellations.

  11. Agitated

    You are lucky to have a dark sky. Most of us don’t.

    I was out in the country two nights ago and realised (yet again) what I miss from city light pollution in Belfast. No Milky Way, ever. At best you see the brightest stars and constellations (Orion is good), but luckily the planets as well.

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