Early Morning Astronomy

Lately I’ve been a little better about my pattern, so I’ve noticed the changes in the early morning light. Or rather, the lack of it. Each morning, 5am gets a little darker and a little colder. The temperatures have been mostly merciful, but the light has faded steadily. Today was especially cold, measured by my Weather Channel app at 47 degrees Farenheit. (That’s 8 degrees in correct temperature measurement.) I wore a long-sleeved running shirt to take the edge off, but I knew I would be comfy after a mile or so.

There was a consolation prize, though. The first thing I saw when I stepped outside was Orion. He was bright and clear, as were all the other stars in the sky. I can only imagine what they would have looked like without Burlington’s light pollution. I could see not only the bright stars, but the smaller ones that are usually blocked out by the slightest drop in conditions. And turning to my left, I saw a star so very, very bright that I knew it was probably not a star at all. Venus or Mars, I wonder?

I stood there for a moment, just staring at it all. This is why people buy telescopes. This is why people make the decision at an early age to study science. Basking in the wonder of it all, it’s easy to drift off into a fantasy of being out there, of charting stars from the void, of looking out a window to inspect a no longer distant solar system.

At least, that’s my impression of how astronomers and scientists think. For my part, I simply divided my gaze between the stars above and the cracks in the sidewalk at my feet.