Sunday, January 01, 2006

Beneath Orion's Gaze

When I took this picture shortly after the year turned my viewfinder showed only black, but I knew from my moon shots that longer exposures bring out stars I don't see with the naked eye. In this case I could see Orion fine but my camera couldn't. A few stars showed up after I downloaded the shot; further processing gave it "sight".

Scenes from New Year's Eve....

Mary and I took our walk amidst brief flashes of light and briefer noises. Small firecrackers with single gunshot reports. An occasional whistle while color arced into the air. Once in a great while a corner of the sky blossomed in earnest, but mainly we watched the air around us fill with spent firecracker smoke.

We called New Year's greetings to neighbors and strangers, most of whom called back. Another stranger shouted greetings from a car whipping around the corner.
We visited with a new friend for a while. Every few steps Mary stopped and craned her neck, trying to find the Andromeda galaxy, which she can see better than I with the naked eye. The smudge is best viewed by looking at it askance rather than head-on.

Venus was headed west; Mars was up. Saturn and Jupiter were yet to rise. As Mary sought out Andromeda I looked for Algol, in the constellation Perseus. An eclipsing binary star, Algol dims every 2.867 days to 30 percent of normal and a few hours later is back to its usual brightness. Fortunately it has a comparison star, Rho Persei, nearby. When eclipsed, Algol dims to the same apparent magnitude as Rho Persei, though it wasn't dim when I looked. A few nights ago we'd had the telescope out, getting in a glimpse of Andromeda, Saturn, the Orion Nebula.

One item in yesterday's mail was a copy of For the Children 6, produced by Jordan Rich (host of WBZ's The Jordan Rich Show) to benefit Boston Children's Hospital. The book is a compilation of humor, inspirational pieces, and recipes -- and I was reading it aloud to Mary while we enjoyed some end-of-year Frangelico liqueur, some hours before our end-of-year champagne.

One section, "A Dark and Stormy Night," printed gems from "actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays." I'd gotten up to number 4: "She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef."

Mary piped up, "She's growing on him very slowly, then, if he's only room temperature."

Mary went on to explain that human body temperature, 98.6 degrees F, is the optimum for E. coli. Room temperature would make them very sluggish. Later she specified that actually it's the temperature inside our intestines, whatever that is, that's optimal. Add food and the bacteria can make a new colony within 30 minutes.

She napped after the Frangelico but was up two hours later. We toasted the New Year with champagne as the noises outside grew louder and Daisy became just a bit perturbed at all the excitement. I popped outside with my camera and tripod, calling out greetings to our next-door neighbors who were setting off sparklers in the street.

Most of the firecrackers were barely visible behind trees or too quick for me to capture, so I settled for the smoke. Further processing brought out some stars in the bargain, before the clouds rolled in.

The paperwork piles in my studio begin to diminish and I can actually see some carpet! One big pile still remains but Daisy has just seen to that detail, clearing an access route to my lap. She serenades me now with her diesel purr, letting me know that at least those papers have nowhere further to fall.


Blogger Brenda Clews said...

I meant to comment on the post where you included a composite photo of you in a magic cirlce underneath the manifold chaning moon... it's a striking image, one that has stayed with me.

Wishing you a prosperous, creative, successful, loving year...

5:23 PM  
Blogger Brenda Clews said...

'manifold changing moon' oops

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was fun peeking in to your New Year's Eve evening. Loved the conversation and other details. I also enjoyed the smowwoman image you left me in a comment. So cool (a pun?). Unfortunately, we don't have DSL out here in the sticks yet and so the Scrabble pictures are harder to view because they take too long to download! Oh no. I hope you and Mary have a richly rewarding New Year.

9:33 AM  
Blogger e_journeys said...

Thanks! I'm on dial-up, too, so patience and multitasking come in handy. :)

6:12 PM  

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