In Which We Look For Planets

February 10 – (written early in the AM) Just came in from a pretty chilly outdoors, and I’m glad to be warmer than I was for about half an hour earlier! Dale is still sleeping, and Cat is enjoying a rest on the rug in the hall. David had mentioned earlier in the week that he had finally decided to check out the five planets, all lined up in a row from Mercury to Venus. Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter. Of course, he had spotted all of them, but it was a bit cloudy this morning, and I wasn’t as fortunate.


How I probably looked…

I had asked Dale to set the alarm clock, something which we haven’t done for a long time. In fact, he wasn’t sure that he even remembered how to set it! You can imagine that I woke up a number of times during the night, worried that after all my plans for the morning, something would go wrong, and I would miss the sight! I just knew that I would need to hear the alarm, and it wouldn’t go off. Then as I snuggled under the blankets, I knew I would be cold outside. I was sure that my luck would fail, and it would be too cloudy to spot any of those planets.

Tossing and turning was my exercise through the hours from midnight till five in the morning. Right then I decided I would check the view from the south and east windows. Sure, the clouds would have to be there in the sky, pretty well blurring the moon! Back to bed just biding my time till six o’clock. Once, when Dale’s movements told me that he was awake, I said to him, “Might as well turn off the alarm now so it doesn’t bug you later. I know I’ll be awake by six, and that’s the time I plan to get up.” More than half asleep, he reached over and pushed the button, then settled down for a few more hours!

Flashlight and David’s directions in hand, I left the bedroom, turned up the heat in the living room, then quietly moved on to get into my clothes that I had laid out the night before. Of course, Cat was so sure that she should go outside to check out the place, that I had to move out into the kitchen and open the garage door to satisfy her. With warm slacks, heavy shirt, woolen socks, my old walking shoes, a heavy jacket, stocking hat and mittens, I was ready to go out to find if I would be happy or disappointed.


[ You’re going WHERE? ]

As I opened the door, Cat sped inside, as she doesn’t enjoy the cold any more than I do! I knew what she would do. Head straight for the air vent and throw herself right up against it, purring with happiness! I know what she must have thought of me about that time: silly lady, letting me in to enjoy the warmth, and going out yourself to face the twenty-degree temperatures. Just so she can see those shiny things in the sky! I’d rather be in where it’s comfy and cozy and warm!

In the driveway I turned on the flashlight to give me a little light to lead the way to the road. But, when I wanted to turn it off, I couldn’t because I couldn’t see well enough to find the turn-off button. And how could I check the button anyway because with the light turned on, it was pointing away from me, taking the light with it? Finally I felt around just once more and managed to turn off the flashlight. Now I don’t want to tell too many people about that dumb way of thinking because they might tell others, and they would have a great silly joke because of my not even being able to tame a flashlight! Um, wait a minute. I just blogged it…

Oh, well, back to the reason I had been awake for so long and could now get on with the plan. Across the road at the Reynolds’ house, there were lights in the windows (Bob always gets up early!), and the big outdoor light mounted on the pole sheds lots of light around the area. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to see Mercury, the hardest planet to see (David told me that), I knew I would have to walk the graveled road, at least to the top of the hill.


[ I saw three of the five… (pic from Stellarium) ]

Clutching the note David had sent me about the viewing in one hand, and the flashlight in the other, I moved to the side of the road, almost in the ditch, as I could see the headlights of a car bobbing along to the top of the hill away from me, and continuing on. I had the advantage of seeing the car before the driver saw me. It was easy for me to know when he finally did, because the car veered off on the other side of the road before straightening out again.

As I walked closer and closer to the top of the hill, I noticed that I could see one of the planets near the crescent moon. As I was enjoying the experience, I could hear roosters crowing and a dog barking. Those sounds came from our neighbor Joe, whose animals stay in his garage. The planet I saw just before the good morning from the birds and dog must have been Venus because it is so bright you couldn’t miss it. Then Saturn, but not Mars, followed by Jupiter, highest in the sky. (more tomorrow…) – CHRIS

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