Stellarium Terrarium

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photo courtesy of http://www.stellarium.org/screenshots.html 

“I left your house this morning about a quarter after nine
Coulda been the Willie Nelson coulda been the wine
When I left your house this morning
It was a little after nine
It was in Bobcaygeon I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves one star at a time”

-“Bobcaygeon” by the Tragically Hip

Do you find the constellations as puzzling and fascinating as I do?  I’m sure one could spend a lifetime discerning their secrets, their mythology and shapes without getting into all of the scientific and picky details of their composition (star types, names, etc).  After inspiring myself with some more of the ‘Hip this morning (see above quote), I found myself thinking back to my childhood.  I used to spend hours looking up into the blackest night sky, pondering the collection of stars, humbling myself under that darkened canopy, with only the faintest clue of the major constellations.  Sure, I could pick out the Big Dipper, The North Star, The Little Dipper and Orion’s Belt, but what of the other, more obscure constellations?  I had no clue.  It almost seemed a futile endeavour and daunting task to learn of even ten or so constellations.

Then I got thinking [oh, oh….that’s the smokey odour you smell emanating from your computer screen!].

Like any sparkling, shiny friend, the constellations really do reveal themselves to me, one star at time (thank you Gord Downie).

What a delicious thought. 

Then I had another thought.

I know so little about the night sky, I had better brush up on my star-gazing skills before summer (forget about preparing myself for bikini weather…I’d rather amaze my friends around the campfire with some of my “star-knowledge”). 

This wonderful site (www.stellarium.org) is a free-downloadable program that is available for Mac and PC users.  As I am soon to discover (in my spare time), this program has some unique features (the above photo, for example is a screenshot from the program).  I’ve always wondered about the artistic interpretation of some of these constellations as they pertained to the actual constellations, from photos of the night-sky.  I’m a little too ADD to look at those old-fashioned determinations and make any sense of their topography.

I’ll let you know how I make out with my star studies.  Oh, and if any of you are stargazers…I would be interested in some of your favourite constellations and stars…Do you have any great stargazing memories…?  What are some of the best places for stargazing?

So far, my favourite constellation would have to be Pegasus…and the best place for stargazing…my parent’s old cottage haunt (which is situated in the middle of nowhere).  My favourite star-gazing song…you guessed it…”Bobcaygeon” by the Tragically Hip.

Enjoy

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2 responses to “Stellarium Terrarium

  1. I such a wimp when it get cold. I can’t wait until it warms up and I can sit on my back deck and stargaze! I don’t know much more than the big and little dipper, but I enjoy looking out into the universe and feeling like a tiny little speck. 🙂

    Oh, I know V…Summer time star-gazing is ‘da bomb. Winter stargazing…well…let’s not go there. In late November, I was able to sneak my telescope out by a fire to amaze my friends with some lunar craters and things (some of them have never peered through a telescope before)…but it got darned cold, quite quickly away from the fire.

    Tiny specks we are…I certainly agree with you…There certainly is wonder and amazement at that thought.

  2. I went to an art exhibition with my mom last summer. One room contained one art installation on the floor made with blown glass animals (bear, turtle, crab, etc) and stars. Mom couldn’t figure out what it was (“hmmm, that’s kinda crazy, isn’t it” she said). Of course, it was a depiction of the night sky and the constellations. It was really cool.

    By the way, I love TH’s lead singer’s voice so much!

    Wow Karen, that sounds like a neat art exhibit! Gord Downie’s voice is quite unique isn’t it? I’ve been listening to this group for years…and I can’t say that I will ever get tired of their music. He truly is a poet (if you really dig in to the lyrics, there is always something to ponder). xox

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