“Backyard Astronomy Lesson”
By Ken McConnell
It was cold and crisp in the backyard as we stood looking up at the stars. The little telescope rested beside us on a tripod. We let our eyes adjust to the dark skies for a while, talking about the constellations and a little about the Greek and Roman myths that inspired them. Then I started pointing out stellar objects and my daughter raked the scope around and focused in on each one, first with the spotter scope and then with the main glass.
“You see that bright star right there near Cygnus,” I pointed.
My daughter nodded as she shivered from a cool fall breeze.
“That’s Vega. It’s a variable star and its shape is kind of fat in the middle.”
“Is that because it’s rotating so fast?”
I smiled. She was quick.
“Yup, over there near Cassiopeia is M103 an open star cluster. Can you see that?”
She lined up in the direction I pointed and sited in the Messier object.
“Cool, I can see a bunch of little stars all close together.”
“Yup, can you see the fan shaped patch of light?”
“Yea, in the spot scope I can, but close up it’s just a bunch of packed in stars.”
“That sounds about right. Why don’t you point your spotting scope at just a little under Proxima Centauri.”
She dutifully complied and then after a quick stare, looked up from her eye piece.
“What’s so special about that one?”
“That’s our home star. Sol. Every human in the galaxy came from a little blue and white planet around that star.”
“Oh. What else can we look at dad?”