Wednesday, 13 March 2013


The sky being clear again tonight, I decided to continue my celestial education by looking for the constellation Gemini (which I always want to spell ‘Geminii,’ no doubt because western culture is still a bit obsessed with Latin constructions even when they don't apply. Heaven knows why. When you delve into the matter, you discover that the Romans weren’t actually all that advanced. They were just a bunch of organised thugs who kept on winning battles and writing history in such a way as to fool us into thinking they were advanced. However…)

I did some checking to find out where Gemini ought to be, and made it tonight’s mission. The darker part of Mill Lane (just beyond the last tree of the line bordering Miss Sarah’s paddock) is the best place to see a large part of the southern sky, and that was where I directed my gaze. I found two bright stars which I decided were in about the right place, so I made a mental note of what was around them and checked on the internet when I got back. Voila! I’d found Castor and Pollux (which, by an irrelevant coincidence, rhymes with ‘rowlocks.’ It does, actually. Americans wouldn’t understand, but anyway…) More to the point, Castor and Pollux are the heads of the twins. Now all I have to do the next time the sky is clear is extend them downwards to identify the bodies, and I have Gemini in the bag. So let’s recap:

I can now spot the constellations Gemini, Taurus, the Plough, and Orion. I can use the Plough and Orion respectively to locate Polaris and Sirius, and Taurus shows me where the Pleiades are. Venus and Jupiter are dead easy because they’re so bright. It’s all coming to together – slowly.

You know, I never used to understand why people were interested in astronomy. My attitude could be summed up as ‘Oh, yeah. Some stars. Great.’ But it’s actually quite interesting when you’re in the right frame of mind. And I’ve discovered that winter nights are the best time to look, because the cold connects you mentally with outer space. See? Lifelong learning.

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