Last night as dusk descended I sat outside in the garden watching as the stars gradually appeared. One by one tiny pin pricks of light made an appearance into the gathering gloom, and as the horizon of hills and mountains lost their definition the stars came into their own. Almost directly above us a line of three very bright stars appeared and behind the middle star pointing north was a bigger star. I know little about the night sky other than its enormous magnitude and brilliance with the vast belt of star-dust which spreads from one horizon to the other.
As I sat watching satellites silently moved across this vista of tiny winking specks of light as they continued their journeys and I presumed some were spying on us. Then I had a glimpse of a large bright satellite low on the horizon making its way across the southern sky. I presumed this was the International Space Station as it was travelling west to east on a steady path.
As I sat watching them appear, what struck me most was the immense number of satellites a high proportion of which were heading south to north perhaps it was the time of night. Now and again I could see then hear an aircraft winking its colourful way across this vista of nature, as it carried its passengers safely to their destinations and loved ones.
However, there was one thing that did surprise me, light pollution. Now I live out in the wilds in a forest valley halfway up a mountain, so the last thing I expected was to see the lights from towns miles away which seemed to jump up and fill the heavens with their glare creating a tiara of polluting light.
As the night progressed I moved my position to face north-east to get a better view of the sky. In doing so I was rewarded by a number of shooting stars which proceeded to put on a short but spectacular show as they fell into the Earths grasp. Bands of light that blazed across the night sky, a second or two of brilliant existence before they were gone.
I have tried a simple telescope but probably need something more sophisticated or I need far more knowledge than I possess. However there is one thing that leaves me slightly bemused and it’s a phenomenon I have witnessed before. I will be looking at the night sky and suddenly I see a bright quick flash as if someone has fired off a flash camera. I have looked around to see if a satellite was in the vicinity but there is nothing visible.
I then wonder if I am in some sort of interstellar “Truman’ show, or perhaps in a jar on a shelf somewhere who knows??
© Michael Douglas Bosc