Monday Night with Leo and Ice Pops

Hey, Sky Fans!

How was your view yesterday? Around here, as the Sun made its way behind the hills across the river, I headed outside with my kids; a dinner picnic on the lawn. The first of the early-season fireflies fluttered and flickered around us. Among talk of the pros and cons of various types of ice pops and the politics of camp, a welcome break from the everyday humdrum, I snapped this photo of the young crescent Moon.

The 5% full Moon setting at around 8:00 PM June 26, 2017
The 5% full Moon setting at around 8:00 PM June 26, 2017

The skies were some of the clearest we’ve had around here in a long while. The early summer twilight was slow and drawn out and gave us time for an extra cookie or two.

About an hour later, one kid in bed, the other two of us stepped back out into the deeper dark, now closer to 9:00.

The Moon, Regulus, and Algieba, 9:00 PM June 26, 2017 (ISO 1600)
The Moon, Regulus, and Algieba, 9:00 PM June 26, 2017 (ISO 1600)

I braced the camera on my knee as we sat on the curb, so it’s a little blurry, and it’s at ISO 1600 so it’s a little noisy, but that blurriness helps bring out the stars a little. That’s Regulus, the little king, which is Leo‘s brightest, just above about the middle of the photo, and the off-brand Algieba, Leo’s third brightest, above it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been under anything but suburban skies, but I wonder if I’d be able to find these two among the rest if we were sitting under a truly dark sky.

Algieba, whose name comes from Arabic and means “forehead” forms the head of the lion. It’s a pretty great star. It’s a binary, a pair of giants orbiting each other, or really, a barycenter (a common center of gravity), about 130 light years away from the bats that were circling overhead. Some years ago, the bigger of Algieba’s pair was found to have a system of planets.

We sat and talked, and thought about how amazing it is that the light has traveled all that way, unblocked and unhindered, on a long straight line, just to get here, for better or for worse. The photons reaching her eye are different than the ones hitting mine, which are also different than the ones lighting up, just a little, the trees and the sidewalk around us. The Regulus, the Algieba, the Vega, the Altair, and the Moon, she sees are different than the ones you or I, or our caught-off-guard neighbor, who was walking by at that moment, at them sees.

Fleeting it was, just like summer itself. Who knows what it’ll be tonight*? Thanks for stopping by. Clear skies, everyone!

* A hint: the Moon and Regulus







13 thoughts on “Monday Night with Leo and Ice Pops

      1. You know, it’s funny. I didn’t have anything like this with my parents, but I still have loads of good memories of growing up. I wonder how important the smaller moments are — years from now, my kids might just say “My dad was an okay guy. He used to point at the sky and name stars” and move on quickly or they might not remember at all. It’s all part of the bigger picture, the longer story, the novel as opposed to the 700-word blog post. I’m sure whatever you’re doing, it’s great. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks! Right now it feels like all I do is break up fights among my two sons. Having had sisters, not brothers, I have trouble relating to their need to murder each other over every minor flare up. I mean, save it for the sports field as my Dad used to tell me!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Simon… I know what you mean. My kids are into so many things it took a while for me to figure out how to make this interesting enough for them. I sometimes wonder if they get bored when I just point to some pinprick in the sky and say “That one’s 130 light years away!” Other families have sports or whatever else. I’m a pretty bad sports fan, so, this is the best we can do. 🙂 I’m sure you have a thing with your family that other people wish they had.

      Liked by 1 person

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