Stargazing at Orion Nebula, Pleiades, Planets at Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory
When we first moved into our home, I got glow-in-the-dark stars for the ceiling in Najwa’s room. Before she even started Kindergarten, I made sure she knew all the planets, in order, which ones had rings, was the closest to the sun, the farthest, the coldest. And threw Pluto in there for good measure.
I was just living my fascination with astronomy through her. Fortunately, she liked it as well.
Last summer we went to an astronomy festival in the shadow [well, if the sun was up] of the Washington Monument. Najwa saw Jupiter for the first time.
Tonight, there was a another get together of astronomers at the National Air and Space Museum, and they brought out their big telescopes for the public.
The gathering was at the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory. As many times as we’ve been to the museum, I never gave it much thought as we walked past it, but tonight, they opened it up for the public after the museum closed.
Inside is this huge telescope. Bigger than Najwa. The dome was cracked open to the night sky and the astronomer was adjusting it and the telescope for some far off world. We got there just as Mars ducked behind the wall of the museum so we missed a chance to view Mars through this telescope. We’d have to settle for one of the smaller big telescopes later.
For now, though, we got to see Castor. It’s a binary star, the second brightest int he constellation Gemini. It’s called a star, but it’s really two starsthat revolve around each other, but there are more stars in the star cluster, and, well, something like that.
Outside the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory, there were other astronomers with more telescopes pointing all over the night sky. Unlike the astronomy festival last summer, it wasn’t that crowded so we didn’t have to stand in 50-deep lines to take a peek into outer space.
The first telescope was pointing to an area of the sky just below the belt of Orion. It’s the Orion Nebula. The light we were looking at started its travel towards Earth around the year 700 AD. Imagine that, as the astronomer said, we were looking at the past.
The next telescope was your standard-looking telescope. One you’ll find at the local hobby store. It was pointed at Venus, and since you can see Venus with the naked eye, it would do. In the night sky, it just looks like a really, really bright star. Through the telescope, tonight at least, it looked like a crescent moon. Literally, it looked like the moon.
We checked out a few other telescopes, some also pointing to the Orion Nebula, another one was looking at Mars [it was red], and then there was this giant telescope checking out Pleiades.
In Japan, the constellation is known as Subaru which means “to unite.” It was chosen as the brand name of Subaru automobiles to reflect the origins of the firm as the joining of five companies, and is depicted in the firm’s six-star logo.