This month, Charlie takes up a new hobby and sets his sights on the stars.
Every August or thereabouts I get fanciful and tend to wax poetical about that phrase, the dog days of summer (the nomenclature of which I still can’t decide if I find offensive or flattering). According to some accounts, these days were so dubbed because traditionally they were so hot that dogs went mad. Now if that’s the case, I should find it neither offensive nor flattering but alarming, especially since I’m little and so I overheat easily. But, nonetheless, I do feel a certain affinity with these days, and I think it’s because the star Sirius, the dog star, rises and sets with the sun during this time. Knowing this peaked my curiosity about learning more about celestial bodies, and I decided to take it up as a hobby while spending more time at home these days, since people are going out less and that means I am too.
One of the great things about having your own column, besides having lots of fans and admirers that is, is having the ability to write about anything I want. So this month folks— it’s all about looking at the night sky. Something about gazing up at the darkened sky at night from my balcony just as my canine ancestors did for centuries before me, as well as my humans’ ancestors, gives me goosebumps. It’s the same sky. For millennium. Except everything on earth looks completely different. It just seems mind boggling to me. Well, technically it’s not quite the same in the sky, because all those planets and stars and asteroids and galaxies are rotating and moving and shifting. But still, when you look through a telescope today, even though everything is in constant motion, you’re seeing a very similar thing that someone would have seen back in the days of the Ancient Greeks or Persians for example. I wonder if Alexander the Great ever used a telescope, or if he left it up to his royal astrologers?
If you’re just starting out, like me, it can be fun to look at the moon every night to trace its journey from new moon (mostly dark) to full (bright and shiny). For me, and I assume many, it’s the easiest thing to identify in the sky, and you don’t need a telescope. Ever since I started doing this, I became fascinated to see just how much it changes on a day-by-day basis.
This August, I’ve heard that you can spot the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, without a telescope. I can’t wait to try to find them. You can also spot the planets in the early morning hours if staying up late isn’t your thing. There is something about peering through the end of a telescope though, that makes me feel like I’m getting smarter. It opens up an entirely new world visually. These planets are there all the time, with rings and colors, even during the daylight hours, but we can’t see them. It fills me with awe and a great appreciation for how beautiful life on earth and from earth is. And some nights, I just enjoy curling up on a blanket and star gazing. My favorite part is when I spot a falling star, and I witness it shoot across the sky. That’s when I make a wish. I usually wish for bacon-flavored dog biscuits, but it alternates with my wish for world peace depending on how many dog biscuits I’ve had that day.
I can’t wait to share with you all I’ve discovered in the sky next month. And you can share with me too! Come find me on Facebook and let me know what your favorite star gazing experience is.