Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Like virtually everyone, I dislike housework. But there comes a time when you either have to wash the floor or plant potatoes. Oh, I’m exaggerating; it’s not that dirty! There’s something very comforting about the click and hum of large cleaning appliances – the dishwasher, or the dryer, and a little Neil Young makes the dusting as close to a pleasure as it can get. One thing I do enjoy is wheeling the garbage out to the road at night for early morning pickup. On calm nights, even if it’s chilly, I always stop to look up at the constellations. This morning, in the soft spring light, all the stars of the previous evening were gone, and the daytime stars invisible, but I could feel them up there, as surely as I could feel the empty garbage container in my hands. As I stepped into the front porch, I gave a questioning glance at the snow shovel and ice chopper leaning in the corner. I could probably put the chopper away, but the shovel…hmm, maybe wait a bit on that.

I found this video at YouTube last fall, bookmarked it to post here, and kind of forgot about it, until the recent visit of comet Lulin reminded me. I think this is a really mind-bending comparison of the stars and planets so familiar to many. We're used to thinking of the four inner terrestrial planets in our solar system (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) as small in comparison to the outer gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) but all are puny put up against some of the most common stars we see through the seasons in both northern and southern hemispheres. Their names may seem exotic and unfamiliar, but the constellations they belong to are some of our enduring favorites. Here’s a quick list of some of the better-known bright stars in the video:

1) Sirius – the ‘dog star,’ associated with Orion, the Hunter
2) Pollux – one of the two stars of Gemini
3) Aldebaran – the ‘head’ of Taurus, the Bull
4) Rigel – the right foot (looking at) of Orion
5) Betelgeuse – the left shoulder (looking at) of Orion
6) Antares – the bright ‘abdomen’ of Scorpius, the scorpion

The photo shows our tiny sun next to such a small piece of W. Cephei A’s circumference that the curve of the enormous star is almost imperceptible! The Universe contains such grandeur that we are scarcely aware of being part of, what’s a little dust on the end table or a coffee ring matter in the face of that? I’m reminded of the old Zen quote: Before enlightenment – chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment – chop wood, carry water. There goes the buzzer on the dryer.

Photo at www.
Video from YT member Ashatur


Lin said...

interesting, I've discovered that if you change your paradigm or way of looking at things, it can change your attitude. example I hate cooking but decide to try to look at it differently as a gift to myself for better health since I am now diabetic and for my retired husband who also likes to eat. So I took a class, spent more time planning, shopping and preparing and found out it's fun not drudgery!

life is interesting and even our little tasks can teach us. Once while working part time in a school cafeteria cleaning up student tables the thought came how the rag I was wiping with could represent the Savior and how he takes our stains/sins upon him and leaves us clean. Had the same experience while weeding my garden once.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

That's a really fun video ... and a little unnerving. It made me feel very small, but also wonder: what (who) else could be out there!

Kallen305 said...

Okay, now you all have me curious and I am going to have to look when I get home (I am at work on lunch and the firewall prevents me from accessing YouTube). I know nothing about stars so this sounds helpful.

Deborah, I am so like you and detest housework. I think of all kinds of things to make it more bearable as well.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Interesting, Deb. My youngest son has always been interested in astronomy. He can name all of the stars and constellations.. He has a telescope --and keeps up with all of the comets, falling stars, etc... I love talking to him about the SKY --since he knows so much!!!!

We truly are a tiny speck in this big universe.

Sylvia K said...

I do the necessary housework, when I can no longer find things that I'm looking for, but as you say, a little music, dance around with the mop and broom and dust cloth and it does get done.

As for the universe -- it overwhelms me with its magnitude, its beauty.

Great video! Thanks for adding lovely thoughts/perspectives to my day!

Anonymous said...

You know what console me sometimes?
...that we all are stardust :)

bobbie said...

Wise words.

thank you for that video. yes, it makes me feel very small indeed. (and no more willing to get down to housework)

SandyCarlson said...

Small is good. Good to be challenged, too.

Sian said...

I have begun to like housework. Tidying up, de-cluttering, getting rid of stuff/dust/'s sort of freeing.

Of course I have yet to like it *every day*! :-D

I liked your kitten rescue story too :o)

Cloudia said...

A lovely post.
A meditation.
Wisdom. . . Namaste, Deborah

magiceye said...

so either i am somebody or
lovely post!

edward said...

i like to watch humans clean the house.

Avid Reader said...

I wish cats would do all the housework.

Dee said...

That was wonderful- I love looking at the stars- Orion is a big favorite! Thanks!

Lindab said...

I didn't realise our Sun was quite so tiny in the cosmic scale. I don't have a scientific background, but I find the older I get, the more fascinated I am by all these vast universe sort of things. The other day I missed a change of traffic lights during the morning rush hour because (while stationary, of course!) I was transfixed by pictures of the surface of the Sun via NASA that my 18 year old was showing me on his new iTouch. I wasn't popular with the drivers behind, but what does that matter (like dust in the house) in the grand scheme?