I haven't been to the planetarium since I was a kid. Our high school had one but we didn't really have a teacher to operate it, so I think we only used it once. But that one time was pretty awesome.
There is something about a night sky - that inky blackness that envelopes you, the depth of the quiet surrounding you, that makes you feel both alive and how very small you are within the universe. A planetarium is great at replicating this - the darkness, the hush.
This past Saturday my husband, brother, sister-in-law, and I all took advantage of a free program being offered at the local college all about the winter constellations in the northern hemisphere.
We somehow lucked out and were the only people who attended, which was very cool. It was just the four of us and the volunteer running the program. I always love this. Maybe I am a loner or isolationist, but I like it. I felt like it was our own private show - I guess because it kind of was!
Set against Robert Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" the program opened with a poetry I wasn't expecting. The lines of the poem were still lingering in the air, when the stars began to brighten in the darkness, and I was transported to every summer evening up north, where the stars are more visible. The best part about this was, we were learning about winter constellations. I don't usually view the winter stars, I can't bear the cold to go out and find them. This was a warm way for us to learn about the winter sky!
We saw Orion, with his belt and his shield.
We saw his dog, Canis Major and also Canis Minor.
We saw Taurus the Bull, the Gemini Twins, the big bear Ursa Major, and a few major, bright stars and planets too.
We also learned about light pollution. The volunteer had me turn on my phone during the program, just me. and aim it up like I was using it. The difference was immediate, just from my one phone. It was sad how the light from my cell could eradicate stars, just like that.
Actually, right now in the southern sky, if you look on a clear morning when it is still dark, there are five planets in a single, straight line. The will be this way until Feb. 20th.
I really enjoyed our hour at the planetarium. It was only an hour, free, and very interesting! They have a spring constellation program as well, that I am looking forward to. That one is entitled "Nothing Gold Can Stay."
We followed the stars up with hot pizza, beer and adult conversation before heading back and collecting our babies. I can't wait to take my little guy to the planetarium one day!