Thursday, August 30, 2007

Smoky Missoula Valley & Orion the Hunter

Skagit, Sonny, Lucy and I went to the top of Sentinel this morning and let me tell ya - it was smokier with every step. I think it is smoke from the Rock Creek Fire, but I'm not sure...

Yesterday morning I was thinking it was a little smoky over at Blue Mtn with Lisa and Ana - well, today, it was worse. I'm just glad we got up there when we did, since it is even worse now.

Today, my friend, Art and I got chatting about Orion and the night sky via email...due to one of his recent posts (Art's blog entry about Orion) and I thought it would be cool to write another little something about him...

Orion is a pretty well-known constellation in the winter sky from November til about April. I was first introduced to Orion when I was in college and look for him every year when we start to get a frost in the evening...he stays through the winter and gets higher and higher in the sky until he vanishes in the spring when the warm weather returns.

It's funny what one gleens from a college experience......I remember this really great class I took on Astronomy. It was the most IMpersonal class that I ever took at the University of Southern Maine. I was just a number and the class was set up more like a theater than a true classroom. But I took more information from that class than I took from any other class my freshman year (and it was tough to get my attention freshman year, mind you!). I applied it to my real life. It was a way for me to really respect earth's role in this BIG universe we are a part of and also to help me realize how small we really are. We learned about a whole bunch of other cool stuff like the birth of stars, black holes, the sun, the big bang theory, the speed of light, the solar system, the planets, white dwarfs, red giants, galaxies, gravity, matter, and more.

Lets see - I was probably 19 when I first really noticed and learned about Orion and several other players in the night sky (Cassiopeia the Queen, The Seven Sisters, the Milky Way, etc). I'm not sure who first introduced me to the Big Dipper? It might have been in high school. I am not sure why I think it is so important to see and point these things out - but it just seems to be part of my life and understanding the cycle of everything in it.

If you are interested and you have a planetarium or observatory near you (I remember a visit to a planetarium when I was in grade school - it was so AMAZING as a kid to be looking up at this dome of information that I could hardly fathom.) GO TO IT! And, if you can, spend some time outside at night, just stargazing. There are several "Guides to the Night Sky" that can keep you entertained and learning over the years. I know there is a lot that I would like to see and learn about. In fact - There is an observatory on the top of Blue Mountain that I would like to go with Jeff this fall. They have a viewing night once a month up there. I'll let you know how it goes!

I probably won't be making another entry until I write a journal entry about Iceland...

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