I’ve always been fascinated by the stars. All those suns out there, all those galaxies, all that distance. When I was a young person growing up in Perth the street lights were turned off at 1am. Frugal city fathers. Besides, who’d need street lights at that hour? In fact, they famously left the lights ON one night, so John Glenn could see the city as he whizzed over in his space craft in 1962. Read all about it here.
But that was just one night. Normally blackness would descend and the Milky Way would sparkle overhead, a veritable river of stars. Apart from street lights after 1am, it was also true that few of us had air conditioners. So when the temperatures soared in summer, and you couldn’t sleep from the heat, people ventured outside to enjoy the cool of the night. Relatively speaking, you understand. My sister and I indulged in star gazing using binoculars. To keep them steady we tied them to a cake rack, which we tied to a step ladder. And with that contraption we saw the Pleiades – many more than 7 sisters. Gazed at the Orion nebula and its trapezium of stars, marvelled at the Jewel Box in the Southern Cross. And so on. I started learning what I could about astronomy – not the hard stuff with equations, just the things I could understand, like the life cycle of stars, the different types of stars and their properties, the Doppler effect, galaxies… And I bought a telescope, a three inch refractor.
That was a long time ago. But I still love the stars and now I’ve ventured into the world of astro-photography. I want to take magnificent pictures of the Milky Way sprawled across the sky above the Outback or the sea. And maybe some of the horse head nebula in Orion. Or the Jewel Box. Or a galaxy or two. Yes, I have a new telescope.
But for now, that one at top left is the Southern Cross from my front yard. And this one is the sky facing north from my house. Orion is in the middle. You can see Rigel, Betelgeuse, Sirius, Taurus with its principle star Aldebaran, and beneath that the open cluster of the Pleiades. It’s a bit over exposed, but it’s early days. Watch this space. They were taken with my Canon 5D with a Rokinon 14mm lens at 2.8
Oh, by the way, my latest Dryden Universe story, The Eye of the Mother, is coming along. There’s stars in that, too.