"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4
In the still of night I slip silently out the back door. A gentle hint of breeze invites me to linger, to marvel at the splendor I behold. I take a moment to get my bearings. It has been much too long since I spent time here in this place of beauty and wonder.
My eyes search the northern sky, picking out familiar outlines. To the northwest I see the Bear (Ursa Major). Her cub (Ursa Minor) should be directly in front of me at due north, but The Little One hides, skittish at the glare of city lights.
Moving across the sky eastward from the Bears (a.k.a - the Big and Little Dippers) I find the familiar shape of an abstract "W" seated awkwardly on edge like a child's first shaky attempt to print on unlined paper. This is Queen Cassieopia, surrounded by her court.
The great square of constellation Pegasus rides well above the northeastern horizon tonight. The Andromeda Galaxy is an easy star hop from this sky marker, but the light pollution obliterates any hint of her location without some sort of optical aide. Tonight there is no gear; only my eyes.
One by one the neighboring lights go out. The night deepens. I grow more accustomed to the darkness, and the beauty of the night explodes. Everywhere I look the stars dazzle my senses like sparkling diamonds against navy blue velvet.
Why do these sights fill me with such awe?
I breathe deeply, lost in the wonder of all that I see, knowing there is so much more out there than my eyes alone can capture. Star clusters, galaxies, planets with many moons. Gaseous nebulae, and rich mysteries I will never understand.
What am I that You are mindful of me?
You created all of these marvels and you call the them each by name! Yet, at the same time, you stoop down low to make me great.
Standing here in the night,
with the magnitude of Your grandeur
draped radiantly across the heavens,
I feel the extent of my nothingness
in the fullness of your presence...
and Peace surrounds me.
and Peace surrounds me.
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Tips to Improve Your Nighttime Viewing
- Allow at least 15-20 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark.
- The more your pupils dilate, the more light they gather.
- The more light your eyes gather, the more detail you see
- Protect your dark adapted eyes from white light including:
- regular flashlights
- light from house windows
- street lights
- cell phone screens
Helpful Links for Visual Observing