Thursday, 27 October 2011

Finding Orion

We were recently in South Africa, and while there I had an obsession with finding the Southern Cross. I'm no astronomer, but I do know some of my constellations, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. For the first couple of weeks I only managed to spot the pointers, which was really frustrating, as I didn't know where the Cross was.

Well, on the second week, I had a shock. We were staying on a bush campsite next to a river at the bottom of a rather deep (and steep) valley with my family, far away from any city lights. It was cloudy and wet at the start of the week, but it eventually dried up and cleared up. I think that it was the Wednesday or Thursday night when I needed to head to the ablutions block in the middle of the night. For some reason I looked up at the sky as I left the block to head back to our room.

The sight that met my eyes was one that I've most assuredly seen before, but nevertheless it took my breath away. I immediately spotted Orion - yet I was having trouble. It is a constellation that I know very well, and yet I couldn't make out all the stars. I had no problems finding the belt and the sword but, surrounding the four corner stars were SO MANY stars that I couldn't figure out which ones were the corners of the constellation!

How incredible is our universe? Even when we think that we know something, there's always more!