I can’t help it. I love looking at the stars. So, tonight, for maybe the third time this week, I’m staring at a night sky and trying to get my bearings enough to find this comet. I don’t know what makes it different from any other comet, but I know they said it won’t be back for another 6,800 years. And, even though I didn’t know until a week ago that comet NEOWISE even existed; I know that if I miss it, I will certainly feel like a failure and my whole life will have been wasted, proving me forever unworthy.
Well, long story short, I didn’t see the comet tonight. But I did get a good, good gaze at the stars, which is something I hadn’t done in a long time. I’d almost forgotten how wonderful it is. Beginning with dusk. I like staying in the same spot, and watching the same general direction, as it gets a little bit darker, and a little bit darker. Not noticing each tiny change, but certainly the totality of change from day to night. We say it “gets darker,” but I’m pretty sure the Earth is just spinning a fraction of a degree while we watch. But wait, I haven’t moved, so how fast must we be turning that as I lay on the top of my husband’s truck, the planet has turned on its cosmic axis enough for me to see the stars. All of a sudden, that feels really fast and I begin to feel unsteady. I lied down. And one by one, the stars that didn’t seem to be there a few minutes ago, revealed themselves to me. I realize they’ve been there the whole time. I just couldn’t see them. Suddenly, I feel less alone.
Do you know what I like most about the stars? The fact that the more you look, the more you see. I swear it. If you watch for long enough, you are pretty much guaranteed to see something freaking celestial happen. (i.e., a shooting star, some meteor shower maybe. It’s bound to happen. And when it does, you will have been a part of it. I like how the more you zoom out, and relax your eyes, the more they pop out at you. The best way to find stars is to look away slightly, stop focusing so hard. Like the old Magic Eye posters, where the best way to see the image is to look not straight at it, but instead, to look beyond it. And the stiller you are, the more you realize they have been there this whole time, watching you back.