The skies were beautifully clear tonight. As I gazed up in ever ceaseless wonder, the Universe twinkled back at me.
I did my best to capture it with a point and shoot camera, on the outskirts of a light polluting city. I have never been very good at recognising stars and constellations, so please correct me if I am wrong. I think this first photograph shows Procyon (far left), the little dog star in the constellation of Canis Minor, with Orion nearby. Procyon is the seventh brightest star in our sky. The constellation was identified by the Greek astronomer, Ptolemy. Along with Canis Major (the big dog) it follows Orion the hunter.
I believe the second photograph shows the constellation of Orion with the stars Betelgeuse and Rigel, the sixth brightest star in the sky. Orion the hunter is chasing Taurus the bull (another constellation) across the night sky. Rigel is a rare blue-white supergiant possibly 57,000 times more luminous than our sun, whereas Betelgeuse is a cooler red supergiant. The three stars in a close diagonal are known as “Orion’s Belt”.
This third photograph, I think, shows the constellation Auriga with its bright star Capella (little goat). Capella shines with a golden light, like our sun. And the constellation of Taurus whose brightest star is the red giant Aldebaran. This star is said to be the blood shot eye of the bull glaring back at Orion. It is thought that the constellation of Taurus is depicted in the cave paintings at Lascaux, dating from around 15,000 BC. The constellation also marked the spring equinox during the early Bronze Age.
Looking up at a star filled night sky, I am reminded of Don McLean’s song for Vincent Van Gogh, “Starry Starry Night”:
“Starry, starry night.
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze, Swirling clouds in violet haze,”