When You Can’t See the Stars

I left stupidly (like getting the first bus at 6:20am) early this morning. I’ve been waking up before dawn and struggling to get back to sleep. It’s Christmas Eve and those are usually very quiet.

As I left the house, I noticed the crone-like crescent moon hanging right in front of me, along with an orange blob which definitely wasn’t a star. I thought it was Venus but it was only when I pulled out my phone and opened my favourite astronomy app that I realised it was actually Jupiter.

Talk about feeling tiny. That little orange thing is a gas giant … that was so cool.

You see, on account of the blind thing, I want to love astronomy but lack the visual acuity to see anything. Even with the most powerful telescope, I just can’t make anything that far away not be blurry. I had a telescope as a kid and once just about found the Pleiades and was stoked (they’re my favourite stars, next to Sirius and Orion). I can navigate the common constellations by eye, of course, except that you have to be able to see the stars to do that.

Apps help. I keep wanting to buy a telescope, a really good one, and rig it up so that my phone can tell me what I’m looking at (using an app and the compass, it’s really easy to find and identify things). I find winter especially magical for star-gazing as the nights come so early/leave late and are much clearer which actually gives me a fighting chance, even if it’s cold.

Often, I find, it’s the little moments like this morning when the size of the cosmos really hits home. Technology just helps make that beauty a little more accessible to people like me, who want to partake but find it a tad challenging.

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