Because I didn’t have to get up at seven I woke at four. As I blearily tweaked the curtain, Jupiter glowed in a frosty sky, and I could hear it even when I tried to tuck back under the quilt: “You’ll be sorry if you don’t… you’re awake anyway … you’ll be sorry if you don’t.” Luckily the thermals were to hand in the darkness. And the essential fluffy feet.
It’s quite a while since I’ve been out at this barbarous hour. The Plough of course; Leo; Virgo arranged around the beacon of Jupiter; Hercules; Lyra rising. I fail to like Boötes, whereas my cockles always warm to Corona Borealis and Serpens Caput (as if they cared!), and Draco provokes tragicomic nostalgia. In the still air, each wave was audible, growling onto the remote beach, the seventh waves thundering and dumping with suppressed energy.
I took out the 5″, but it had decollimated itself so I could barely pick out the belts of Jupiter, though it was pleasant to see the four big moons in a row. So I stuck to eyeball and binocular, working to ‘see’ the squashed house of Cepheus, which for some reason my brain never identifies even when I know I’m looking straight at it. Cygnus came up in the east, and at last Aquila began to appear, and the whole summer triangle was absurdly simultaneous with the icy car and crunching grass. A shred of the waning moon rose at six, and through binoculars the earthshine was awesome.
One planet; one meteor; one satellite; the moon; and a thousand stars. As I came in I dropped the 5″ on its head, poor thing, and made it more woggly than ever. So now – if you can – collimate THAT.