For about 10 days there it was either hazy or cloudy at night, or the Moon was up before midnight, but the past couple of nights have been good for star-gazing. Sagittarius is visible, and through binoculars I got a good look at the Lagoon Nebula – a birthplace of stars some 4 to 6 thousand light-years away. Not far from there, my Collins Gem guide to the stars has a little cross indicating the direction of the Galactic Centre. That’s just mindblowing; pure romance, more evocative even than “Here be dragons”.
I was going to say this is the first time I was really observing the night sky since I was a child, but in fact, as a child I was somewhat dependent on a parent to go with me someplace away from the glare of streetlamps, so my star-gazing was actually quite intermittent; so this year is really the first time in my life I’m able to get outside night after night and see how the stars and planets move. It’s a thrill every time I see some constellation above the horizon for the first time. Perhaps next year that’ll be a little attenuated – ‘oh well, Sagittarius again’. But of course there will continue being more new things to see.