Part of the Star Finder that Whit made in the second half of this past weekend’s Family Science Saturday about the night sky.
Our school has a marvelous tradition of offering Family Science Saturdays occasionally throughout the year. It’s a great joy to me that Whit really likes to go. This past weekend, we spent Saturday morning flat on our backs inside an inflatable planetarium. Whit and I crawled into the silver dome of plastic through a low tube of plastic, and we took our places lying down with our feet in the middle and our heads at the outside of the circle.
Once our eyes had acclimated to the dark, Miss D, Whit’s Science teacher, began to talk to us about constellations. Since the beginning of time, she averred, people have looked up at the stars, and tried to see patterns.
Isn’t that what we are all doing, all the time? Looking – up, out, across, down – and trying to see a pattern in the assortment of details that we observe? Witnessing, and naming, if we can, that vast design, after which I named this blog almost ten years ago?
Miss D turned on the projector, and the planetarium filled with constellations. “Mum!” I heard Whit whisper in my ear. “That’s Orion!” I could not tell where hsi hand was pointing, because it was so dark. But I nodded and looked back and forth along the curved ceiling, trying to find the three stars in a row that mark Orion’s belt.
“I can’t see it, Whit,” I murmured.
“Right here,” he took my hand and pointed it to the ceiling. “Follow your hand. Right there. Looks sort of like a scorpion?”
“So,” Miss D began, “first, we’ll talk about Orion.” She turned on a laser pointer and the red dot showed us where Orion was. I could feel Whit nodding next to me. Then she told us about Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Perseus. As I lay there, listening to her voice and watching the constellations above, I thought about Kilimanjaro, all those years ago, about seeing the Big Dipper and the Southern Cross int he sky at the same time, about my deep belief that life is about learning to navigate by the stars.
That’s still true, and I’m still learning. I know how to find Orion now. My son showed me. One of a zillion things he’s shown me already, and I know there are at least a zillion more ahead.
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