As a focus in my life it has waned somewhat over the years. I blame my slowly failing eyes and city bound ennui. My right eye, the unscarred one, is still pretty good at the eyepiece but just looking up at the night sky is getting pretty distorted. Even with my night time glasses. Decades ago I had -eagle eyes- and my love the night sky was properly served. Now, not so much.
Now I understand that astronomy, like sex, is mostly experienced between the ears. The distant light that falls onto the cornea is only a smudge until one fills in the details with knowledge acquired through books. I still use the word “books” like I use the words “tape” or “album”. So, astronomy has a long tradition of being experienced in an armchair with “books”. This is and will always be available to me.
Yet, there are some things that I have to experience in the flesh so to speak. So in 2006 I travelled to Turkey to take in a total solar eclipse. Unlike lunar eclipses, which are visible to everyone on the night side of the planet, solar eclipses are visible to a small strip on the earth’s surface during the day. Although a solar eclipse may stretch from South America to China in length, it is only 100 km’s wide. So you have to place yourself inside the thin sliver of shadow. All this added up to having to travel to Turkey see it. Once the astronomical event was over I then turned around and joked to Jennifer,” That was great… now, where the hell am I ? “. It was like Turkey had found me and it was a fantastic country. Istanbul, Antalya, Cappadocia and the Aegean sea. I loved it all.
My trip to Argentina is not dissimilar. I have always wanted to see the southern stars for myself. For those who don’t know – the stars in the southern hemisphere are completely different from the north. It seems obvious because the underside of the earth faces a completely different direction, yet I find this fact awe inspiring. To think as a northerner I have only seen half of the universe. That there is a completely different “heavens” to see, is so exciting to me.
I hope to connect with some local amateur astronomers in Tierra del Fuego. I will bring a small 90 mm telescope plus some binoculars as well.
Argentina choose me as well. The difference is I am learning much more about the nation before I depart.
In doing so I am already moved by it’s history and place in the world. Both it’s European connections as well as the Andean first nations.