Friday, December 07, 2007

Harsh Mistress



When I got out of the house this morning, at six o’clock, in the crisp darkness, at -14ºC or 6.8ºF, the first thing I saw was the Moon. A luminous sharp crescent, a narrow tilted sickle on the blue-black sky, but with the remainder of its body perfectly visible, its roundness noticeable in a dark matte grey. It stunned me. I don’t recall ever seeing it like that before.

Frigid winter nights like this, especially the “open” ones, when the sky is not lined in the snugly cotton of clouds, when the Moon casts its cold brilliant light and the stars are myriad, invariably make me think with longing of the Cosmos. I try to imagine what it would be like to be “up” there, among my beloved stars, and my heart aches because of their immense beauty and because of their utter intangibility.

I dream of the extremes in temperature and distances, of huge chemical reactions, of the tremendous poetry of astrophysics. Blue giants, and white dwarfs, and comets, and gas planets, and the asteroids in the trans-Neptunian region, all these almost unimaginable exotic things fascinate me. Speak to me knowledgeably of event horizons, of intergalactic space, of supernovae, of dark matter, of Messier objects, and I will fall for you, hard indeed.

Like all children, I think, when they were very very very young, my daughters were fascinated by the Moon. I had taught my youngest to answer, when asked where the Moon was, “In the Cosmos.” Most of the times she would get it right, pronouncing it in a hyphenated way “Cos-mos” but some other times she would invert the two syllables and would say “Mos-cos”, much to our delight. She laughs out heartily now when I remind her of that – she’s a big girl now, she’s four, not a baby anymore…

I hope to instil in them my love for astronomy. I hope they will be among those who lift their eyes, often, and contemplate the sky. And wonder. All things technical are evolving fast these days. Who knows, maybe one day they will walk in Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Showers…

11 comments:

Bernita said...

Beautifully written, Vesper.
The names alone are enough to create a longing.

strugglingwriter said...

My daughter is one and a half and LOVES the moon. She asks to see the moon all the time and since it is winter, it isn't visible as much now. We usually tell her it is behind the clouds.

A few weeks ago, however, she spotted it in the morning sky before we did and I nearly corrected her before I looked and saw it.

Also, it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit here yesterday morning. Makes one not want to go to work.

Paul (http://strugglingwriter.wordpress.com)

Emperor Ropi said...

When I was younger I thought the moon is a huge piece of cheese. A band also sings about that in Hungary. I wish there was that cold here.

Taffiny said...

Lovely post, I hope they do look at the moon and cosmos as you do, a worthy inheritance to bring with one through the world.

I admit it was hard for me to focus while reading, though I too find the cosmos fascinating. I kept drifting instead through the tall grass, and kneeling by the stones. A beautiful, beautiful post, and how hard not to fall for faces in photos and wonder who they were, or if one knows, to keep and hold tight to who they were, and wish to touch that part still. Please do forgive me for commenting when I wasn't supposed to. (but my tomorrow offers me a similiar those who are physically not with us post)

red dirt scribbler said...

Vesper!

Even your prose is so poetically written .... how beautiful (and somewhat deja-vu-ish) - I loved astronomy as a child. My current obsession are black holes and what happens to time and light when they stray too near that immense gravity ... and then the theoretical existence of their opposite: white holes! I love how things in life come in pairs.

xxx
red

Akasha Savage said...

What a beautiful piece of writing. I too love the night sky. i often go outside on a clear night and just stand gazing up at the moon and the stars. I find it so calming,it makes me realise how insignificent us humans really are.

Ello said...

I still love the moon and have secret longings to visit.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

To walk amongst the stars not just to dream of them and wish upon them. Beautiful post, Vesper and so very well written. xxx

Vesper said...

Thank you, Bernita. You're right, I love those names of stars, Alpheratz, Schedir, Rigel, Bellatrix... oh, I have to sigh...

Paul, yes, they're all fascinated with the Moon. I didn't think it was so cold where you live... Yes, it's hard to get out of the house, especially in the dark.

Ropi, what do you thinks of the theories that say the Moon is a huge spaceship? :-) I don't think you'd like it if it were as cold in Hungary as here. Maybe for a shortwhile...

Thank you, Taffiny, for your words on both posts. I know who they are - they are indeed my grandparents, very old photos, from another time and space...

Red, thank you! Black holes (and white) are truly fascinating - it's hard to imagine such an immense gravity concentrated in such a small size. xoxoxo

Thank you, Akasha, yes, I have the same feeling - we are so small compared to the Universe...

Ello, who knows, maybe we will go there someday... :-)

Vanilla, thank you so much! To really walk among the stars - oh, I might give anything for that... xoxoxo

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I have a passion for astronomy too... love LOVE the photo you chose, and every word you wrote.

La luna always takes my breath away.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Vesper said...

Thank you so much, Scarlett! Ah, astronomy, my first love...