Thursday, April 19, 2007

On a Clear Night

A number of years ago, my husband completed a telescope-building class at the Adler Planetarium. On those rare clear nights in Chicago when something interesting is happening in the heavens, he will set up the powerful scope in our backyard so that we may marvel at a part of the sky we’re not accustomed to seeing much anymore.

Tonight wasn’t one of those nights, however. Like most nights during the work and school week, there wasn’t time to set up the telescope. But there was time to for hubby to call us from the train station and alert us to a great view of Jupiter and a crescent Moon.

“Go out on the porch and look to the west,” he said.

Each of us dropped what we were doing and ran out to greet a perfect astrological pairing in a perfect sky. Clearly visible to the naked eye.

Seeing those two bright objects in the night sky is almost jarring, though. Chicago’s light pollution masks the thousands of stars we would be seeing in a less urban area. More often than not, airplanes are more visible than stars.

Curiously, the view tonight reminded me of a child’s drawing (or a Crockett Johnson drawing)—an overly large, twinkling star sitting just above the smile of a crescent moon, placed in the middle of a solid blue background.

Slightly unnatural and exposed.

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