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May 18, 2011

My Star Gazing Nights


On a hot summer night, when power goes off, lying down in the terrace, looking at the night sky is a wonderful experience. My father narrated a story saying why there is a rabbit like shadow formed by the craters in the moon, I believed it word by word till I read about it in the science class. My mother showed the moon and gave us moonlight dinners. But my real Star Gazing nights started in my childhood during power cut nights. Its my Mother, Father and Sister who introduced me to that amazing world of friends.

The sudden rushing down of a sparkle which stays only for few seconds is amazing to watch – “The Shooting Stars”. Earlier when I was not aware of, I used to cover my tiny head with little fingers, closed my eyes tightly, fearing it may fall on my head. Later, for those amazing few seconds shot, I have patiently watched the night sky even for many hours. Only the luckiest is able to see it at the right time. I felt lucky whenever I see one because before you inform others to take a look at it, it disappears into this universe.

Though have studied in my science book that only star twinkles and planets don’t as they only reflect sun’s light, there is no practical night sky watching class arranged in the school. If you have interest or if you have elders to guide, you are the luckiest and I am happy that I was also a lucky one.

The first star which we can see bright on the horizon is the Venus which is visible till 8 pm in the night sky. So it is also called in tamil as ‘Ettu naazhi pattam’ and in the early morning hours when it is called ‘Vidi Velli’. The Jupiter (bright) and Mars (red) are clearly visible during July and August and not very far from each other. I am not an astronaut to give you an accurate data, but sharing the knowledge which I gained through experience. Saturn is visible in the early morning hours around 4 am. Its always interesting to watch the shapes created by the constellation of stars. There is a row of 3 stars standing in a straight line (which I was told is ‘Avittam’) and the one just below which has very less visbility is (Chadhayam). Mercury is very near to sun and hence is not visible to naked eyes except the sunset hours but its difficult to make it out. Uranus, Neptune, Pluto are only visible through telescopes at particular period hence they are far from my tiny eyes.

One fine morning my Father woke me up to show Halley’s comet and it was a wonderful sight to see a Star with a long tail and the only one I have seen so far in my life. I boasted to all my friends that I saw it bright and big in the early morning sky. Every day when it was visible I used to say a hi to this friend of mine. Its still in my evergreen memory gallery. Scientists predict it appears every 75 years. If I am lucky enough to stay alive that far, I will be able to meet my comet friend again, but don’t know whether my friend remember me?!

Later when the medias talked about shoe maker levy , whose 21 fragments was about to hit Jupiter as part of its revenge episode, our whole family spent several night hours in the terrace to watch the amazing event but could not spot any difference as the pieces hit the dark far side of the Jupiter. But the mass is so much that the planet was able to withstand it. I just imagined one hitting the earth and it brought me night mares turning me blue and cold.

I have not yet seen ‘Arundathi’ though the priest who conducted our marriage told us to watch the day sky and expected an ‘Yes’ from both of us, when he pretended showing the star to us . We too pretended that we saw it and nodded as the custom demands it from us. Till now not seen her but longing for the ‘D; Day.

The meteor showers lightens the night sky every year in north pole and south pole on different days. In 2009, I was gazing at the wrong direction (balcony) hence I missed the event. This year, one is already over in May, which I missed to remember. If I am lucky, I will be able to view the next universal fire works show.

Speaking about stars, I remember a scene from the movie Swadesh, wherein when the whole village were watching a film in an open air touring talkie, the power goes and the hero who was working in NASA sings the song ‘Yeh tara Who Tara har tara’… a nice tune where they show the different constellations, shapes formed using the imaginary lines. I also like the olden Tamil Goldie ‘Aagaaya veedhiyil azhagana vennila, alangara tharagayodu…..’ though there are many songs about the moon and stars, this song has a particular place in my heart as the tune is also very nice.

There were days where my classmates believed me when I told them that when I travelled by plane I collected the clouds and my mother made a nice pillow for me stuffing the clouds http://emoticoner.com/files/emoticons/smileys/pinocchio-smiley.gif?1292867653(pinnochio or Geppetto?! ), though I have seen the plane only when they fly over my place. Later on though it sounded silly, but believe me, they believed till I was in class VII.

I had nice time joining group of stars with my own imaginary lines and giving them some shape. This same imagination only made the constellation of great bear and others came into practice by our early astronomers. I have even drew my own imaginary kolam using those well placed stars.

Even now, I take time to sit in the garden and watch the night sky, meeting my star friends and have the opportunity of an occasional show of shooting stars. I enjoy it the most when my Dear Husband joins me . But in the apartment life, busy days and TV programmes, children hardly get this luxury of watching night sky. Not many mothers have time now to show the moon and feed them dinner. Those are the olden golden days, though I am able to enjoy them in installments because of family priorities, I eagerly look forward for such cherishable moments with my twinkling friends who makes my every night a pleasant one. 



viji said...

Very pretty writing. i enjoyed ward by ward.
The graphical pictures made more attraction.

Mira said...

Thank you Viji. Glad to know you enjoyed the journey to the star world with me.

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