Gaze at the stars

Orion picStar gazing has always been a bit of a hobby of mine. I love looking up at the stars on a crystal clear night and seeing the stars emerge and envelop the night sky.

Stars are powerful. They dare us to imagine and connect the dots, to see princesses, kings, and creatures from tales from long ago. They inspire us to dream and to make wishes.

Stars lead us on journeys and lead us back home again. Above all, stars connect us with our world, the greater universe, and our fellow man. They put our lives in perspective.  Sometimes when I walk at night and look at the stars, I think of the people in other parts of the hemisphere looking at the same constellations I’m gazing at. It makes my troubles and worries seem smaller somehow.

Next Saturday is the Winter Solstice so this week’s Happy Act is to star gaze. If you live in an urban area, this might be more of a challenge. Make an outing to a dark park on a clear night (but stay safe—don’t get mugged!), or drive out of the city, park the car and look up into the sky. Get one with the universe. If you’re lucky, you might see a falling star, and your wish might come true.

Some tips this week if you live in Eastern Ontario. Queen’s University Observatory has a free Open House the second Saturday of every month. Check it out. There’s also an area in North Frontenac that has been deemed a dark sky viewing area. Finally, we’re luck y to have one of the leading astronomers, Terence Dickinson live in our area. If you can, watch for and attend one of Terry’s talks. If you’re new to star gazing, this short video will help. See if you can find Orion, Cassiopeia, The Big Dipper, which is an asterism, a constellation within the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear and Ursa Minor which is home to the North Star. My favourite is Pleiades, a cluster of seven stars known as the Seven Sisters. If you’re interested, ask Santa for a good little constellation book you can take on your nightly walks.