Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I read that two dwarf galaxies were discovered around the Milky Way by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This science story made me walk outside for a bit of star gazing. I could really only see the brightest stars. It's just slightly too bright here to see the haze of stars that comprise our galaxy. I have seen the haze of stars.
My first memory of seeing the Milky Way was on a trip to my grandmother's house in Natchez, MS. I think it was just my mother, my sister, and me in the car. We must have left after school because it was dark by the time we were traveling on Hwy. 61 outside of Natchez. My sister and I were laying on the large bench back seat of our Buick LeSabre looking out the window. "Wow," one of us said, "Look at the stars." My mom pulled the car to the side of the road. We all got out to gaze at the streak of milk across the sky. "So that's why it's called the Milky Way," one of us said. "Wow."
Montana is another wonderful place to see the Milky Way. Or central Washington state in the Cascades. Or on a cruise ship headed to Alaska. I used to be able to see some of it from the beach in Pensacola. Not now. There are too many lights.
I once heard an astronaut speak at the University of Washington. He said that the view of the stars from the surface of Earth is paltry compared to seeing the stars unfiltered by the densest part of our atmosphere. I can only imagine.
What are your memories of seeing the Milky Way? Where were you?