It’s 11:30 PM on the 17th of Feb. We are up on the bow of the Serenity, a spaceship traveling through time and space with our lecturer Bill McKay about to call the Captain to turn off all the lights for us to star gaze. Normally a ship would not do this, but our Captain gets the cool award.
After the lights blinked off, Bill talked about the Maori (indigenous peoples) as a ploy to stall for ten minutes so our eyes could acclimate to the night. As we turned up to the sky, the Milkyway was bright and beautiful– the edge of our galaxy clearly visible, and slowly, the night sky became crowded with pinpoints of light.
But the excitement, after sixty three years– seeing the southern cross meant so much to me. I had only read about it in books as a kid, but have never crossed into the Southern Hemisphere until this journey.
Below are images from my iPad app of what we were seeing in the night sky.
We spent the next hour looking at various star clusters such as the Pleiades (seven sisters) the nebula in Orion’s sword, the Large Magellanic Cloud to name a few.
But what really held my interest was looking into the heart of Leo, for buried in this constellation is Gliese 581, a lonely red dwarf sun and its surrounding exoplanets, one in particular… 581g (Dykazza) the planet at the center of my novel, Silversides.
It was a great night.