The weather here is usually dry and rarely cloudy. We’re also fortunate enough that even in January the temperature doesn’t often dip that low. I know, I know, I go on about it a lot. Sorry. The point, however, is that these favourable meteorological conditions afford us many brilliant opportunities for stargazing. When I was dogsitting in December I made the excuse to take the dog out late every night so I could have myself a bit of nightly astronomy. The dog just appreciated the chance for a late night toilet stop. The skies are so clear here that you can see millions of stars (and for once I am probably not exaggerating). The only snag is that there are lots of streetlights and neon signs around where we live, which of course means that one’s night vision is severely compromised.
So last night, the hubby took me on one of the best dates of my life. He was working until just before midnight, so I went to meet him and then we went to our local beach. Just the two of us, two deckchairs, a thermos and a map of the stars. Gazing up at the heavens for half an hour, the view was so good that we actually felt we could see too much, as so many of the less bright stars were clogging our view of the “major” ones that make up the well-known constellations. This was without the help of any telescope or other device. Best highlight was seeing Jupiter, which is really simple as it’s one of the brightest things you can see, but there’s a real sense of achievement in being able to confidently point out a whole other planet to someone else.
I can safely say that my favourite time to be on the beach is now midnight – give me a deserted stretch of midnight sand and some stars over a scorched July midday one full of snotty kids any day.