Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Tonight I saw Mars And It's Beautiful

This is Mars with a crappy camera. 
To my naked eye twas beautiful. And red.
Late this afternoon DD's class teacher whatsapped a poster. In a nutshell, the planet Mars is usually 228 million km away from Earth. Tonight it is only 62 million km from Earth and is visible to the naked eye. The next time this will happen is in 2035. 

The poster said to look to the south. I went onto the balcony soon after nightfall, and I looked west. I caught a sliver of the southern view but my balcony essentially faces west. When I bought this apartment 20 years ago, I had no idea that I was swapping a closeup view of Mars one night every few decades for a nightly full-on sunset.

I was gong to give Mars a miss but I got involved in a whatsapp discussion which ignited my curiosity and motivated me to go down three flights of stairs to look for Mars. I looked south and saw two contenders but my whatsapp pals informed me that these are Jupiter and Saturn. I sort of remember seeing them before and they were bright white so this made sense. 

Apparently there's a star chart app but seriously, I just wanted to see it and go home. So sans app, I set out. If I saw it I saw it and if I didn't I'd wait until 2035 (peh peh peh, please God, thank God, all being well).

A whatsapp came in. "It's rising in the north and travelling by way of the east, to the south." South of where I live is Bethlehem. I decided not to follow the star even if I saw it because the beginning of October is ridiculously early for that sort of thing. Besides, I had no gifts to bear bring. 

The buildings were in the way and the street lamps dazzled. I walked down to the school playground at the bottom of the road. I looked up towards the NE. I definitely saw it. It was small and not white. If I stared long enough I could convince myself that it was red(ish). There was possibly a red aura about it - or possibly not.

Another whatsapp came in with a photo. 'Beautiful!' declared the caption. 

There was a teenage boy playing on his phone in the pergola. "Hey!" I called out to him, "do you want to see Mars?" Of course he did. He was as underwhelmed as I was. We agreed to meet back there in 17 years for the next showing (lockdown permitting of course). I said I'd wear a red flower so he'd recognize me. He said he'd bring more space on his phone so he could take a photo of it. We bade each other farewell, but not goodbye obviously. 

I went home. The rest of the evening passed and suddenly it was 02.30 (it's a school holiday this week so no early zooms to get up for). I decided to take one last look from the balcony just to see. And there it was! A little west of south (S by SW?) and in perfect view. Big (for a star), bright, and decidedly red. It was awesome. I keep going back to take another look. 

I may not have seen the Northern Lights or tasted real truffles (both near the top of my bucket list) but I've seen Mars and it is beautiful. How cool is that? 


2 comments:

  1. I too managed to see it. I woke up very early one morning so it was still dark as I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I have a large window in my kitchen that faces south-west so decided to have a look - it was very bright.
    Hope that you are both managing with your latest lockdown. We had an announcement yesterday afternoon so as of midnight no more entertainment venues, no gyms, no indoor dining, indoor gatherings limited to 10 and outdoors to 25. Schools and places of worship to stay open (although my church closed again after opening for 4 weeks) and we are asked not to mix households again.
    I do have a bubble with one other woman in my building who is also on her own and we were going to eat together at my place for Canadian Thanksgiving, but, she ended back in the hospital yesterday for breathing difficulties (she has asthma) and they did a stack of tests - including for Covid (her second. Everything seems to be fine but she has to rest for a few days until all her results are back. I took her some soup and some pumpkin pie today and will take her a nice dinner tomorrow. To tell you the truth I'm not fussed about it all - I've gotten used to being on my own for most of the time.
    I was walking down by the river last Monday afternoon and there were a lot of Orthodox families out there too (the salmon are running) so I got talking to one family and of course it was Succot (is that spelled correctly?) I hope that you have both had a nice week - as best you can at this time.

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    1. There's not one agreed way to spell many of the Jewish holidays - Succot and Sukkot are both acceptable. (Also Chanukah, Hanuka, etc... Rosh Hashannah or Rosh Hashana, etc...)
      I'm also fine with being alone as I have social media and the TV. DD isn't so self sufficient. Even though she plays video games on her phone with friends and talks on the phone, she needs the physical interaction. We did meet two of her friends in the park the other day and ordered pizza which she enjoyed very much.
      I wish your friend better and I hope you'll be able to spend a t least part of Monday with her for Thanksgiving.
      Lots of love, take care and be safe. xxx

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