Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Night Sky

A number of years ago the National Park Service sponsored a single nighttime beach program during a total lunar eclipse. A knowledgeable astronomer was on hand to point out constellations and answer questions. As the earth's shadow covered the silvery moon those present began to gasp when the prominent white band of the Milky Way came into view. The astronomer made a special point of identifying this awesome feature of the night sky.

I remember wondering why he kept pointing and doing his best to make sure everyone was aware of the Milky Way. "Why, it's always out here, whenever the sky is dark," I thought. "All you have to do is look up into the sky to see it."

And then it occurred to me, "Most of these folks come from the city. Maybe they can't see the Milky Way whenever they want to."

Last night we walked out to the beach. The night was crystal clear and the stars were strewn across the heavens in extravagant numbers. We lay down on a blanket and searched the sky for shooting stars. Only a few were to be seen, but the Milky Way was painted across the dome of heaven in spectacular fashion. What an awesome sight!

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