Tuesday, January 9, 2018

That moment ! - entry first drafted on 23rd Dec and re-edit #lateposting#

That moment I felt, a step back (actually it was more than one step) I took when I was drawn into space. Literally! It’s been many years since I saw such sight that I almost forgot there are stars in the sky. 

We were getting out of the car outside our room in Grand Canyon, I looked just above the roof and beyond miles away are countless dust specks. My jaw dropped! Having lived my life in light-polluted Singapore; spent the few days in LA and well-litted Las Vegas, I was suddenly blinded by the darkness and some sparkly hope in the sky showing me the way. Ha!
At that moment the man was more eager to enter the room, the girls jumped down from the car and che-che had to exclaim so loudly "wow! mummy! camera camera!" when I had my hands full with food items. Honestly, I was really angry at that impatient girl. How can she expect me wring the camera bag out of me when I have my hands full (and hers empty). Kept asking me for the camera. I simply dumped the heavy food bags onto the floor near the door and went out again to marvel at the sky. I understand that girl's excitedness coz' she's never seen anything like this before.  

I've always been so interested in looking at stars. With our hectic life in Singapore, there is simply no time for us to stop and look into the sky. Anyway, even if I had the time, I can see more streetlights and headlights than the stars. I never thought that it was possible to see stars in Singapore but che-che told me in the darkest spot where she went camping with the school, she was able to see stars and the nice big moon. I guess I must have rubbed my interest in her. She spent the night (2am) outside the room in the dark with another friend and admiring the sky while everyone else were counting sheeps (and perhaps one classmate - busy counting the number of Hail Marys she recited)

I'm not good in identifying the constellations because they all look sparkly the same to me. And how would I know if they are stars or satellites? And it's not like I have the opportunity to practice in Singapore every night right? Though I know I would get a telescope if we lived in a penthouse. 

My interest started a long long time ago
I love going into the cockpit on night flights and have seen the stars and milky way from there before. I remember talking to some pilots and I bet they were trying hard to entertain me when I asked them questions. Obviously, they weren't interested in the stars or some rubbish stuffs this stewardess was talking and asking. Oh well..... 
I rubbed shoulders with stars onboard but still I'm not so attracted to them as compared to the celestial stars. After the 911 incident, there was no way any crew can step into the cockpit.   

Anyway, back to the time in Grand Canyon. I was quite distracted and kept going out of the room. It's been so long since I saw the pitch of black with twinkling stars. Although we travel every year, we were mainly in the cities. This is the only time we travelled out into the National Parks and I must say the girls love it. Che-che loves nature, ignorant lil' one is more afraid of encountering bears. That girl ah! So timid. 
Out of the three NP we went, only GC and DV are designated International Dark Sky Park (IDSP). Woah! Sounds alien right? Basically it gives me an idea of how dark 伸手不见五指 DV would be. They do have stargazing activity but we didn't join any! As we arrived at each destination at close to 6pm, the only thing I wanted to do was to shower and sleep. I didn't think much about joining the experts. I should have! 

Two regrets :
1) I should have dragged myself and che-che out somewhere in the dark (and maybe get mauled to death by the bears/wildlife) out of our accomodation coz we have no idea when we will travel F&E or able to see the sky filled with stars.
2) I should have done a better research prior to trip on the camera settings. Infact, I did task che-che to do it since she was free (and she's the one wanting to bring the camera) and I was busy doing up the travel journal. But it seems like she didn't do a good job, probably she used the internet time to do her own things? In the end, I realised that I needed a smaller aperture of 2.8 but both lens has a min of 3.5. No wonder I couldn't get any pictures of the stars

I thought to myself as I stood outside (I should have brought out a chair and sit outside that time) if I could sit outside everyday and stargaze it would mean that my life has slowed down. That will be the time when they girls leave the house. For years, I've been so busy with the girls and household, did I miss out anything more important than that? What's my perspective on life? Have I given so much in return for nothing? If my life would have been different and carefree if I had not settled down and have children, perhaps still flying close to the stars and UV radiation. Would I have achieved more and lived my life to the fullest? As I held my breath and gaze into the sky, suddenly it seems like everything was still (though the earth is still rotating), I felt so connected to nature. If I am lying down on the ground, I bet I'll be reaching my hands out as if trying to reach for the stars.     

Rubbed interest into che-che
I have no idea when she was interested in astronomy. Maybe when I was flashing flashcards to lil' one? I made my own flashcards then, and constellation was one of the topics I covered. I should have seen it coming when she insisted we had to go Griffith Observatory in LA. At first, I thought she was crazy enough to go there after watching Lala Land but she told me she wants to go in. Meaning she has some interest. Alas, our time there was short coz everyone else isn't as interested as us. What to do? This is partially the reason why during my flying days I like to travel alone.    
I know since I have a person with common interest, we can go together next time. Can go with che-che coz we are quiet n probably talk when necessary. If lil’ one is with us, she’ll want to go back to hotel to sleep. Or she yaks too much that I get interrupted while I’m absorbing all the earth energy into me. Making me frustrated that I’ll want to commit suicide or make myself prone to being taken away by aliens. Haha! 

These photos are taken by hubby's friend. He went so fast, we didn't even get to go to this section. But perhaps coz we were taking our time reading the information (and for me-some extra time needed to explain to the blur sotong lil' one)

12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope in the Observatory Dome. I wasn't able to take a picture of this, Samsung phone has better camera aspects. Taken by hubby's friend. He has good eye for photography.
Taken outside Griffith Observatory. Look at the city lights. And there were blinking lights in the sky too! Aircrafts arriving and departing LAX airport. So busy! 

Need to be well-informed
In order to rub some interest to lil' one, I bought 2 books for her. It's really cute and shows you the orientation of the Little Dipper in different season. Once che-che thought what she saw was Big Dipper aka Ursa Major but when she looked at the book (when we got home in Singapore), she realised she was looking at Little Dipper.  

This planisphere caught my attention and I bought this for che-che and myself. This is good for the dummies, like us. At Lone Pine, I was trying to use it and commented that I needed a light to see if I've turned to the correct date. I was surprised that che-che shouted out to me to use a red light instead; I can't use torch light. She knew! 
The Night Sky is a rotating star finder- or planisphere that allows the user to recognize the constellations for any time of night, any day of the year. The sky appears to rotate (due to the rotation and orbital motion of the earth), so to be successful recognizing the constellations a beginner needs to know which stars are above the horizon at any time.
This is the full-sized version of The Night Sky suitable for the 40°-50° latitude zone (northern United States and parts of Europe). We have versions for the following latitude zones: 50°-60°, 40°-50°, 30°-40°, 20°-30°, and the Southern Hemisphere. We also have pocket-sized versions available for the same latitude zone.

In order to help me (and to be more well prepared the next time), I've downloaded SkyWalk2, Sky Live, Moon Phase in my handphone. SkyWalk2 is god-sent, it has never been so easy to spot the planets, stars or satellites. Che-che followed suit and downloaded the same apps. I also get email updates on EarthSky News.  

Here's the first constellation I spotted - Orion in GC.

I am definitely going to get the correct lens and firmer tripod soon. And be more well-prepared with warmer accessories to keep myself warm if we are going stargazing next time in the winter. Won't freeze and die outside. This looks good, right? 


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