Orion’s Belt

Dear J-

This morning I looked up to see Orion in the little strip of yard between our houses; under the streetlights it’s not always easy to catch a glimpse of any constellations; coming out of our front door the lamps are bright enough that I’ll catch the moon on a bright day, but as it is I suppose there’s just enough shadow to cast the stars into bright relief, looking south. I suppose Orion is an urban sort of constellation, and a fall/winter one at that, as I remember seeing him in San Diego as well from our driveway. That was something to remember, sitting on the still-warm, sun-baked concrete of the early dark, looking up to watch the stars peek forth.

I am at best an indifferent student of the stars; Orion is one of the only constellations I can readily identify and then only because of the distinctive hourglass shape (I can’t tell which side is the shoulders and which the legs, although I’m sure a bit of study time would inform me). Still, though, there’s something distinct and pleasant in seeing old friends follow you across the state, though I never thought to look for Orion until the last few years, not growing up nor during college, not with night hours being spent fruitfully studying (all that knowledge has leaked out my ears by now, I’m sure). If you want to ponder infinity there’s nothing better than the stars.

Consider: the light coming from these stars can be hundreds of years old. As for human time scales, remember that these names were given by people living thousands of years ago; what more proof do you need in infinity? I’m not convinced we have the capability to consider time scales longer than a few hundred years properly (1914 and the world was at war; 1814 and still early in our nation’s development; 1714 and I got nothing). The stars are as constant as anything in our lives and we have the same view every night, don’t we? Not even then; the shifting seasons and the sky’s canvas tell us change is coming, in cycles and great galloping leaps.

Mike

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