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. taringa.net
Video from YT member Ashatur