Line ‘Em Up.

Source: Secrets Of The Universe

Unfortunately I slept through the great planetary alignment of 2022, or maybe fortunately because missing sleep can really throw me off, and also we live in a neighborhood with a lot of trees so I miss some opportunities to witness celestial events unless they happen in the winter, unless they’re due east in which case my view is blocked by woods, or if they’re almost directly overhead, or if I get up and drive somewhere with a low horizon and low light pollution, which is getting harder with each passing year.

Of course I do have a couple of astronomy apps on my iPad that allow me to see what’s in the sky regardless of what’s in the way which is why sometimes I’ll stand in the den and point it straight up at the ceiling and when my wife asks what I’m doing I can say, “Looking at Uranus,” but that’s another story.

In other words circumstances would have to line up in just the right way for me to see the great planetary alignment, but I’m okay with that. I remember when I was in second grade and there was supposed to be a solar eclipse that, while not total, would still be partly visible over Nashville. Of course it was cloudy that day. I’ve witnessed other eclipses since then, including the total one of 2017.

I’ve seen multiple lunar eclipses, most because I specifically planned my schedule around being somewhere where I could see them, and I’ve even gotten up in the middle of the night just to watch some.

One year my wife and I got up in the middle of the night and drove out to a farm where we watched the Perseid meteor shower which was supposed to be spectacular that year, and, lucky for us, it was. I’ve also seen meteors I wasn’t looking for; my eyes just happened to be in the right direction at the right time.

And then, Sunday afternoon, I fell asleep in front of the TV, because I hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before in spite of not getting up to see the great planetary alignment, with the Science Channel on, and I woke up just in time to hear an astronomer say, “Astronomy is a very serendipitous science!”

We can predict the movements of the planets—the next big one will happen September 8, 2040, but sometimes the best events are the ones that can’t be predicted.

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8 Comments

  1. pinklightsabre

    Have you read Annie Dillard’s short story/essay Total Eclipse by any chance? One of my favorite pieces of creative nonfiction.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I haven’t. In fact I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read anything by Annie Dillard but her essay “Total Eclipse” sounds fascinating and really worth reading, and I’d like to pick up the entire collection. Thank you so much for recommending it!

      Reply
  2. markbialczak

    I like to look at the night sky no matter, big moments or no big reasons, Chris. Some nights I just wander out on our back deck and gander because I can.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Like you I like to look at the night sky any time I’m outside, although I do have a small telescope that I sometimes take out to look at specific things. It’s just powerful enough that I can see Saturn’s rings.

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    Why is Uranus closer to Earth than Mars?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Well, you never have to go far to find Uranus. But also notice that Neptune is between Jupiter and Saturn because we’re not seeing the planets from a central point. To really see them all lined up in order we’d have to be standing on the sun.

      Reply
  4. ANN J KOPLOW

    Things are always looking up when I look up your blog posts, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I look up to you and your comments.

      Reply

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