Sunday, January 13, 2008

Something's Watching Me

For the past month or so, I have become acutely aware of the red eye of Mars glaring at me all night long. When I leave my office at 5:00 PM I see it start to rise in the east, the brightest, ruddiest and most ominous celestial object in the sky. Its presence will pursue me all night long.

We earthlings are apparently as close to Mars as we will get for another eight years, and to be honest it has been the first time in my life that I've been able to pick the planet out among other heavenly objects. Now it has become an obsession with me.

You would think that living in the Arctic and hundred of miles distant from any sources of pollution would make stargazing a national sport, but such is not the case. Light pollution abounds up here. If the moon is past the first quarter the light reflected off the snow allows only the brighter stars to be visible. Add to this the Northern Lights and all but the most brilliant stars are obliterated. So in the pristine Arctic, we end up with about as much of the night sky as visible as in a city park down south. I have never, for example, seen the Milky Way up here.

Lately I've been challenging some Inuit to name stars and constellations. So far, all I have learned is that Orion's belt is called the Three Racers, or something like that. But in the old days, travelling at night by dog team was not avoided on clear nights, and what we call Polaris or the North Star was used for directions. With the moonlight reflected on the snow landmarks could be recognized fairly easily as well.

But back to Mars. Each time I go out I am aware of its taunting gaze, seeming to assessing my strengths and finding me wanting. All night long it climbs a celestial ladder and by the time I go to sleep it is almost overhead. If I open my eyes while abed I can see it peering in through my bedroom window, omnipresent and ever-threatening, not to mention rude.

I just hope Mars gets hit by that huge asteroid at the end of the month, something it seems to have forgotten about because it spends all its time staring at me. A nice massive poke in the eye would be fitting pay-back.


Blogger marty said...

Nanuk, you need to watch more Twilight Zone episodes. I think that would give you a new (maybe not necessarily, better) perspective.

10:08 PM  
Blogger she said...

oh the northern lights blocks your stargazing? what the &^%$?!?!?! im planning to go to iceland to SEE the aurora borealis. i can see the milky way and mars very well in the north georgia mountains. having mars stare down at you is sort of sketchy...can bring turmoil. relocate immediately. grrrrehahaha good to see you!

8:44 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Damn Northern Lights. We don't have them here but I do have a brightly lit 24Hr Wal-mart next-door that takes their place.

9:13 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Marty: With about 2.5 hours of real twilight on either side of night you could say we are truly in the twilight zone.

She: I'd love to go to Iceland! Say "hey" to Bjork for me while you're there.

Phos - Location, location, location.

12:57 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

The ol' red-eye, eh?

6:54 PM  
Blogger DutchBitch said...

It's glaring at you.... Oooooh.... phew... I thought it was glaring at me!

2:05 PM  

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