Most people, when they look up at the night sky can easily see stars and identify some familiar groups of stars (asterisms and constellations). Some people can even find and name some planets – Venus, Jupiter, and Mars are all bright and easy to see.
But, there are many invisible wonders in the sky – and some of them can be seen without a telescope. In fact they are so big that a telescope is not the right tool to use; we have to use something even more powerful… imagination!
Using visualization and imagination, I am going to show you how to find and “see” a very large structure in our sky: the solar system disk itself.
…no matter how long it has been traveling through space, ends its journey in your eye. The light hits your retina and is transformed into thought. As long as you let that star light stream into your view, the star itself lands in you and settles its motion.
When I was 17 years old I went on a weekend retreat run by the Christian Brothers near Melbourne, Australia. It was a weekend of spiritual teaching, introspection and reflection.
Saturday night, one of the other boys at the retreat surprised me. As we stood outside under the stars, he spoke in that matter-of-fact way typical of Australians.
Let’s do some Physical Astronomy. The experience will help you to understand the movement of the earth and sun through the seasons. You will build a scientific instrument that is also a fun garden decoration and you will be able to track the Groundhog’s Shadow all Spring!
Now, turn a little bit to the left, keeping both hands pointing at the sun.
Swing your left arm out until it is pointing in the opposite direction from the sunset. Bring your hands together again and repeat this swinging motion.
Bring your hands together again and point them both at the sun. This time, instead of swinging, bounce your left hand, leftward, some number of times… (14 is perfect if you can do it) …until it is pointing in the completely opposite direction from the Sun at sunset. Your left hand should now be pointing East.
Was the moon at any one of those 14 hand bounce spots? That is the age of the moon in days.