Living in our new home town occasionally yields surprises, some good and some not. Tonight’s surprise is definitely the former.
We’re located no more than 15 miles from Boston (as the crow flies) and we’ve come to expect a certain level of light pollution from the city and surrounding suburbs, including our own commercial strip here in town.
So color me shocked when Meghan strides in at 10 pm tonight, returning from a friend’s house, and announces that she can see the Pleiades.
We head back outside to look and, as we stand where the driveway meets the street we count six of the seven sisters. If I recall correctly that was considered good in ancient times; seeing all seven was reserved for the eagle-eyed among us. Pretty good for front-yard star gazing.
There’s a small, boring backstory: Meghan renewed our membership with the Museum of Science (MOS), then asked me if we should renew it (she asked me via text, so she may have a different order of events). I said we shouldn’t, since the girls haven’t been interested in going and we basically did not go at all last year — HOWEVER if we were to actually go just once I would be happy to renew while we were on-site. Despite talking about this all over text, Meghan’s disappointment was evident as she dutifully cancelled the renewal.
I considered my options carefully, as the couch isn’t a particularly comfortable place to sleep, and gently reminded her that the MOS has an observatory that they open on Friday nights to view the stars — therefore it would be open later that night, and I would happily renew while we were there. All we had to do was get the kids on board with going, or figure out what they would do while the two of us went. (The girls thought this was a cool idea. 50 points to Gryffindor.)
Credit to https://bkellysky.wordpress.com/
A few hours later we found ourselves standing on the roof of the MOS parking garage, waiting for our turn at the telescope. Sadly, I could not photograph the view from the telescope, but it was a surprisingly clear view of Saturn. A number of other people have taken photographs that are pretty similar to what we saw. Happily the docent was informative and happy to answer questions, and didn’t make us feel rushed. The MOS seems to have crowd management around the telescope down pat.
While we were waiting our turns, we took a few other pictures of Boston and astronomical phenomena, and watched the city bustle around us.
Look to the left and up from the moon, that’s Jupiter. High, thin clouds were moving in, backlighting the view and obscuring the dimmer stars. The photo was taken with my cell phone, apologies for the potato-like quality.
This was a “super moon” (full moon at perigee) eclipse. I took this about 45 minutes after the start, and the moon was mostly occluded. Notice the detail of the shadowed area; this was taken with a cell phone so this much detail is surprising.
A total lunar eclipse isn’t that rare, but one with perfectly clear skies is. We let the kids stay up until 10:30 (on a school night, no less!) to watch the moon get swallowed.
Star gazing is so much more stylish in a convertible so we drove down to the lake and bundled up under blankets with the top down.
Selfie of us stargazing on a blanket in the backyard. I didn’t use a flash and it was pretty dark.
We all (Mom, Alpha, Beta, and I) camped out in the back yard to look for shooting stars — tonight is the peak of the annual Perseids meteor shower. We saw a couple of bright streaks, a bunch of dim streaks, and a handful of satellites.
The grrlz got curious about the stars as we lay on the blanket, and we talked about the Big Bang, extra dimensions, time travel, landing on the sun, and extraterrestrials.