geography

little shopping trolley

little shopping trolley

Tonight was the first time that I can remember seeing Orion’s bow. Maybe the sky hasn’t been dark enough where I’ve lived or else I didn’t know to look for it before. I didn’t know to look for it tonight either but it was just there sketched in the sky.

There was couple of other very obvious shapes near to his bow.
A catapult and a little shopping trolley.
Looking at official star chart it appears they’re officially called ‘Taurus’ and ‘Pleiades’.

There was another very bright light up past Orion’s shoulder which I think  was Jupiter.
So there you go.
A bow, a catapult, Jupiter and a little shopping trolley before things clouded over in Salthill.

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geography

the gloaming

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The moon was beautiful yesterday afternoon coming out of Clifden along the N59.

There it was riding the rocky hills of Connemara,  then disappearing for a minute between clouds,
then reappearing directly in front of the car and looking as if you could drive up to it as you ascended a hill.

The light on the harbour at Roundstone was beautiful (as captured by Mrs Canalways) and the clouds reflecting on Derrylea Lough, well they were beautiful as well…
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The most beautiful piece of music I  remember hearing over the past number of years happened somewhere on a road in north Mayo while driving through a bog with nothing but bog all around.

We where in our Fiat Punto, or maybe it was the newly acquired Nissan Almera. It doesn’t really matter either way which car it was, it was definitely a small car with a dodgy radio.

One of us must have flicked onto  Lyric FM and this piece of music by ‘The Gloaming‘ was playing. I was mesmerised.

It took a bit of searching around the playlist of the radio show at some later date to find out what the song was called and there was no recording of it . So I never heard it again.
But yesterday as chance would have it I heard it again because The Gloaming are releasing an album and NPR are offering a first listen.

Listening to it again Song 44  didn’t seem quite as beautiful as it was on the north Mayo bog, but it is still beautiful.

That particular moment in north Mayo was just one of those unexpected magical moments when everything just fitted together perfectly. It was a moment of grace, something which doesn’t happen often and can’t be planned.

But now I’m no longer in small car  with a dodgy radio and H___ on a summers day on a empty road in an Irish part of Ireland with a beautiful piece of music playing.
No I’m in a cold living room on a damp evening veering between being a bit miserable to down in the dumps probably writing this blog to stop me thinking about the things I should have done that I haven’t done or to just occupy my mind and stop it wondering into dark corners and alleyways it should stay clear off.
The dark gets on top a bit, as happens to lots of people this time of the year with the dark nights and damp air and all those other reasons that make it tough for people.
There was a tragic death yesterday in Galway and there always seem to be constant reminders of bad news, suffering, death. I suppose there is no point pretending that the bad news doesn’t have to happen, it’s going to happen. ‘Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upwards’
I know that there is hope and redemption, beauty and light in life but the dark, damp, cold death seems to be just that little bit stronger sometimes.

So when there are  moments of beauty such as the reflection of clouds in Connemara loughs, the twilight moon, violins,Orion and The Plough over the house last night, the human voice singing in Gaelic that feed into some deep sense of life and joy inside as well I want to remember them. Particularly if you’re the type that finds it easier to remember the bad stuff.

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a far grander marvel than our galaxy

‘Having read recently that there are more neurons in the human brain than there are stars in the Milky Way, and having read any number of times that the human brain is the most complex object known to exist in the universe..’

I have been reading  (or struggling to read) a few essays from ‘When I was a Child I Read Books’ by Marilynne Robinson.

This paragraph in particular reminded me of my dad who has always been in awe of the workings of the human brain.  Later Marilynne Robinson writes:-

‘If we are to consider the heavens, how much more are we to consider the magnificent energies of consciouness that make whomever we pass on the streets a far grander marvel than our galaxy?’

And that little paragraph reminded me of what my friend JM had written the other day about listen(ing) to your life.

Maybe reading a blog, book, poem, listening to music, appreciating art and the many other ways human beings express themselves is like looking up at a beautiful starry night and considering the heavens?

You appreciate just  that little bit more that each human soul is a deep mystery and maybe you start singing ‘How Great Thou Art’ or something? For if you’re going to consider all the works Thy Hands have made you can’t leave out people, and you can’t leave out yourself.  You’re a marvel, I’m a marvel as well.

Often I stare up at The Plough or Orion and wonder at them being so far distant and yet so beautiful. (There is that melancholy again!)
Yet whoever I pass on the street is an even grander marvel than our Milky Way.

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geography

renaming the sky – Auriga (The Pentagon)

I have been trying to take more notice of the night sky and name the constellations, which has been slow work due to the permanent cloud cover and light pollution around Lambeg. Also it is hard not to look like you’re perving into the neighbours bedroom the way our house is…I’m not officer,I’m star naming!Honest!

So last night the sky was clear and I took a peak upwards.
Literally straight upwards.
It was straight above my head and almost painful to look at in the dark. Starting with Cassiopeia (‘W’ as I like to call it) I had a glance around to see if there was any shape sticking out.

Down to the bottom left hand corner of the W are 5 stars in the shape of a pentagon (actually that might be my updated name for them ‘The Pentagon)

For whatever reason I find it incredibly hard to read star maps (as the contain stars that I can’t see here) but eventually I found the proper name for The Pentagon, Auriga.

And look at that!Capella! Which sounds almost like Capello!
And so the brightest star in Auriga shall henceforth be named ‘Fabio’ after England, AC Milan and Real Madrid manager Fabio Capello.
I’m not sure why I’ll not remember the proper name for Auriga. Cassiopeia, Orion and The Plough yes, Auriga No.
It sounds very similar to ‘arigula’ which is what they call rocket over in the USA but apart from that it seems to be a very unexciting star constellation that would pass you by 9 times out of 10.

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my newly discovered star constellation – The Giant Space Bee

If there are as many stars out there in the universe as we are led to believe and if we had powerful enough eyes (plus a bit of imagination) could we have any number of unnamed star constellations?

So, introducing the Giant Space Bee.

Is it safe to assume then that the Giant Space Bee is up there, looking down on us from every concievable angle if we had powerful enough eyes?

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geography

Hilden Indian Summer and Cassiopeia

Thursday night was so mild that I was able to sit outside and look up at the night sky from my backyard. Directly above was the distinctive little star formation that looks like a ‘W’. For years I have noticed the ‘W’ but never asked for its proper name.

Until this morning that is.

The beautiful ‘W’ in the sky is called Cassiopeia (after a beautiful but vain queen in Greek mythology).
The star at the bottom of the 2nd V in the W shape is over 500 times brighter than the sun and 230 light year away.
Imagine that.
If we had entered a rocket that could travel at the speed of light 230 years ago (the time William Pitt the Younger was entering Parliament) we would be only reaching the star now.

The night sky could simply blow your mind up.

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wakefulness (The window is starless still; the clock ticks, The page is printed. )

Animals at night again, its funny how these things appear from nowhere.

One of my favourite poems, perhaps my favourite poem,  is ‘The Thought Fox‘ by Ted Hughes. Its perfect for nights when trees sway in the wind, no stars can been seen, wind blows down the chimney and everything else is quiet except you sense something is there. The opening two verse say:-

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

So I’m awake at 3.30am and can’t sleep because I feel stuff going on in the darkness, stuff moving  and rustling about in the undergrowth, stuff that I can’t quite capture but I want to capture or at least catch a glimpse of.
Bed is going to have to wait, I want to see what’s going on.

There are different images that come to mind here in the wakefulness.

The first one is from Genesis, the earth formless and empty, darkness over the surface of the deep and the spirit of God  hovering over the waters.
Chaos and coldness but the promise of good things to come?

The next is of Jacob alone in the darkness.
Alone that is until he ends up wrestling  a man all night, a man who ends up blessing Jacob and changing his to Israel because he has  ‘struggled with God and with human beings’ and has overcome’.

The final image is of  Bruce Springsteen singing ‘Badlands’, which is probably my favourite Springsteen song.

‘Lights out tonight,
Trouble in the heartland,
Got a head on collision,
Smashin’ in my guts, man,
I’m caught in a cross fire,
That I don’t understand…..

Wrestling in the darkness again and waiting for things to turn around, for things you sense but can’t yet see  to appear from the undergrowth, wrestling with God and humans and not letting go, getting your hip wrenched and a limp for the rest of your days as a result.

That seems to be the way of it.

Then in keeping with the tone of this post H____   wakens from her  slumber upstairs, goes to the bathroom and makes her way back to bed. Suddenly we are both awake at 4.30am on a Friday morning…

‘The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.’

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the plough pt I – names

The Big Dipper – North America

the Plough – England
the Saucepan -  England
the Butcher’s CleaverEngland

the Starry Plough – Ireland

Charles his waine,
Charles’ Wain,
Charlie’s Waggon – England

Karlavagnen, Karlsvogna, or Karlsvognen – Scandinavia

Großer Wagen (Great Cart) – Germany

Grote Beer ( Big Bear), Steelpannetje (saucepan) -  Holland

Otava – Finland

Göncölszekér (“Göncöl’s cart”)  – Hungary

The Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper” – Eastern Asia

北斗七星; pinyin: běidǒu qīxīng – China

北斗七星, hokutoshichisei – Japan

북두칠성, Bukduchilseong – Korea

chòm sao Bắc Đẩu – Korea

Buruj Biduk (The Ladle) – Malayasia

Seven Gods (Долоон бурхан) – Mongolia

from wikipedia

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meteor showering

10.00pm

I am waiting for the meteorite show to begin. Vincent van Gogh said

‘I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.’

and he is right.

The wind is chilly tonight

10.05pm

Helen comes out of the house to tell me that the show isn’t due to begin until 10.30pm.

So I am going inside to get a Jameson’s to keep warm

10.12pm

A large cloud is moving across the sky. At first you get pissed off then you realise that clouds are equally as beautiful as meteorites.

10.17pm

Look at the TV aerial on my neighbours house.What about my neighbours, they’re miracles as well

clouds = spectacular

meteorites = really spectacular

neighbours and humans = most spectacular of all

10.20pm

I haven’t noticed that the sky is clear behind me.Its huge! How am I meant to police that!!?

10.23pm

I want to keep drawing as I was thinking about entering The Guardian graphic novel competition but

1 I can’t see anything

2 If I am drawing I won’t be looking at the sky

3 Its freezing

4 Helen has come out to join me so I should not be rude

11.03pm

It was cold. Truth be told it was a let down, I only saw four shooting stars.

Plus I probably got hypothermia.

I also saw us scaring our drunk neighbour who probably wasn’t expecting two people to be sitting outside in the dark in an unusual place

11.46pm

Read people saying that they saw cool shooting stars just after the point that I went in and starting faffing about on the computer….try not to feel stupid for going out too early..

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