Thursday, March 18, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Orion

Last evening (03/17) at about 9 p.m., the moon, just a sliver of a waxing crescent, was setting in the west and I took this shot. There was little of the moon lit directly by the sun but the entire disk glowed with earthshine. The moon is framed between pine branches at the western edge of our property.
While I stood there taking this time exposure, I noticed the spring peepers were singing. This frog is one of our earliest signs of spring and yet the air was quite chilly. It was an eerie time, with the moon no more than an apparition through the pines and the chorus of high voices drumming in the distant treetops.

And here (below) is a cropped shot of just the three stars that contain the Orion Nebula, M42. My digital will not take a long enough time exposure to bring out the colors but still, it is there in the smudge. It wouldn't matter if I had a better camera anyway; I would have no way to track the sky for longer exposures. Ah, someday ...

And finally, the constellation Orion, the most beautiful in the sky to my way of thinking. At the top, gorgeous Betelguese;Rigel at the bottom right. The belt, the sword in between. This chance aligning of stars is enchanting from our vantage point.

But now they begin to rise too early and climb closer and closer towards the sun. Soon Orion will be lost in daylight's glow. It is actually a sad time for me. I await these stars each fall and am happier throughout the long winter nights knowing they are overhead.
Now, goodbye to Orion. I'll see you on the other side.