Monday, April 27, 2015

Beautiful display of the Milky Way this morning...

Beautiful display of the Milky Way this morning ... as I took Mo'i on his morning walk, at 4 am this morning.  There were a few clouds in the sky, and no moon, so I had a great view of the Milky Way and lots of twinkling stars.  I don't think I've mentioned before just how startlingly high in the sky the North Star (Polaris) appears to be.  This is, of course, due to the fact that we've moved 9° further north – so the North Star is 9° higher in the sky than it would be in the San Diego area.  I lived there for over 40 years, so I got very used to how the night sky appeared.  Now I'm learning all over again :)

Paradise, Utah is at latitude 41.57° north, so North Star appears to be about 42° above the horizon.  Back in San Diego, subjectively the North Star seemed to be just a bit above the horizon.  Partly that was an illusion, as our home there had mountains to the north, raising the apparent horizon above the actual horizon.  Here in Paradise there are no mountains to the north and the apparent horizon is the same as the actual horizon.  That probably adds 10° or so to the perceived difference in the North Star's height.  Here, subjectively, it feels like I need to tilt my head back and look upward to see the North Star.  It's a big difference from San Diego.

Of course it's not just the North Star that's shifted – all the constellations have shifted so that north is higher in the sky and south is lower.  Some constellations I knew well from San Diego will be hard to see here.  Others that are near the North Star are now far easier for me to see; they're high enough to be in dark sky.

Mo'i didn't care about any of these sparkles in the sky, of course.  He just reveled in the aromas coming off the moist earth, just starting to dry out after our rainstorm.  I could smell the wetted manure on our south field, and some subtler botanical scents.  Mo'i was nose down to the ground, wiggling all over the place to drink in deeply of the smells – other dogs, the neighborhood cats, and the rodents (especially voles) that are plaguing our yard right now.  All were endlessly fascinating for Mo'i.  He didn't want to go back in the house :)

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