There are many wonderful things about living in Sensone, but some of the most spectacular and awe inspiring times are those beautiful clear cloudless night skies. Last night I was walking back to the house from Renaio at about 10.30pm, the evening air was much cooler and more humid than it had been for ages, and I was pleased to have my ski jacket on and at first as I became accustomed to the cold I didn’t look up.
Although I had a torch I quickly realized that I didn’t actually need it, and as I looked around to see the moon, the night sky took over. I don’t know if it was because of the cold and my other senses where heightened but the stars seemed exceptionally bright tonight.
I have always admired those who study the stars and when we first moved to Sensone one of the first things that we brought was a huge telescope, I think it was one of my dreams to learn more about astronomy, but my relationship with the night sky and the stars changed when a friend stayed and introduced me to the Ipad and the free app Sky View.
Sky View is a great app, all you have to do is point the Ipad at the group of stars and it will tell you what they are called. When I arrived I could recognize the big and little bear (or the big and little dipper as they are also known), now I can tell if we will have a good or bad day weather wise by the position of Orion over the house and I know many other clusters of stars like Cassiopeia and I now recognize her by the big “W” referred to as “the stained hand”, a pre-Islamic Arabic term referring to the five stars of the constellation depicting a hand stained with henna.
The constellation in the northern sky was named Cassiopeia after a vain queen (Aethopia) in Greek mythology who boasted about her unrivalled beauty. It is told that she was placed in the sky as a punishment for her boast, that she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs, so to this day she is forced to wheel around the North Celestrial Pole on her throne. In Persia she was drawn by al-sufi as a queen holding a staff with a crescent moon in her right hand wearing a crown whilst the French chose to portray her as a two humped camel.
It was one of the 48 listed constellations in the 2nd century by Ptolemy and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations illuminating our skies today. But as she lays deep in the Milky Way there is so much more hidden depth to Cassiopeia including open clusters, nebulae, recently discovered were the early December meteor showers that radiated from her core.
At Renaio we celebrate the night of the shooting stars “San Lorenzo” with our evening walk over the mountains to Lago Santo, we eat at the restaurant on the lakes and then walk back during the night, stopping to watch in awe the spectacular natural light show of the year.
There is so much more to the night sky, the jewels of the stars brighter than any diamond, the depth and mystery that they hold, slowly revealed to those who study her in depth, so much more than my visual concept. For centuries, since man the intrepid explorer started travelling the earth the North Star has helped many a lost traveler find their way home. The more she is studied, the more she unveils.
For many in big cities and towns where light pollution sheds a veil over the night skies they are blinded by modern civility and aren’t as fortunate as those of us who clearly see the wonders and magic within the night sky. For me she is like a great book, she holds many stories to hold the imagination, for those with a writers mind, there are still stories to be uncovered and told; her cover cannot express the depth, knowledge and beauty of what lies within.
What story does she whisper to you?
Article by Sensone