Thursday, January 19, 2012

Galileo must be so disappointed with us.


We waited till 9: 30pm before we drove back out into the park. Bryce Canyon was quiet now, not that it was loud today but now, and there was no one else. We drove carefully, worrying that a mule deer might be on the road, passing the park entrance, the visitor center and making our way to sunrise point.

When we turned off the headlights we were left in complete darkness, it took my eyes the time of walking to the cliff to adjust; even then the headllamp stunted my sight. I set the camera up on a rocky edge, angled with the help of a smaller stone and stepped back. Click.

I painted the canyon with the light of my headlamp, tracing the contours of the hoodoos and the snowy slopes. I illumined the tree branches one by one, then, at last I stood back and turned off the lights. Dad got tired and cold and went back down the trail to the car.

It took another minute before I could see the definition of the canyon for myself. Above me the sky was riddled with pinholes, delicately lighting my landscape. I looked for the big Dipper, couldn’t find it. I did see Orion though… and for the first time in my life I saw more than his belt. Clearly connected were his legs, his bow and his head. I have looked for this so many times, on so many rooftops and so many campfires… but never saw it like this. I looked again for the big dipper, still couldn’t see it. There were too many distractions. Connecting the dots was memorizing.

Eye glued to his telescope, I can only imagine how the father of astronomy would feel to know that this was my first time seeing Orion, or that many people never have. I wonder what the sky would have looked like in his backyard, or 5 minutes out of town. It took me 3300km to see the stars like this. I doubt that is what it took him.

Lying on my back, i can see more stars than sky. I look out over the canyon again and can make out multiple layers of hoodoos and desert formations on the horizon. My camera must be getting this by now. I check the time, it should have been about 20 minutes by now… Click.

To see the sky and not the stars must seem sacrilegious to those who have that opportunity daily. To have access to such an unworldly depth and possibility would change a lot of people’s minds about a lot of things we do. But I suppose even Galileo was criticized for thinking outside the box.

Buenos Noches.

After 2360 seconds, this is what the camera saw.
Galileo's originality as a scientist lay in his method of inquiry. First he reduced problems to a simple set of terms on the basis of everyday experience and common-sense logic. Then he analyzed and resolved them according to simple mathematical descriptions.”(

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