|This is Mars with a crappy camera. |
To my naked eye twas beautiful. And red.
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
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?