Everybody is familiar with the nursery rhyme that begins “Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are!” Well, we know now that every star is a sun that has explosive eruptions …
Everybody is familiar with the nursery rhyme that begins “Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are!” Well, we know now that every star is a sun that has explosive eruptions that violently throw energy and particles into space. Actions that I would not equate with a quaint word like twinkle.
If you are reading this with your morning coffee and toasted bagel, go outside and look up at the sky. You of course, can see the sun and maybe a few clouds or some hungry birds. What you cannot see are the stars. Oh, they are there alright, twinkling as always. But until the sun sets, they are invisible to the naked eye. Speaking of which, I hope you were wearing at least a robe with your breakfast because I will guess that your neighbors do not want to see your naked eye nor anything else.
I mentioned that the sun sets. It does not. The Earth rotates at a rate of a thousand miles per hour. That rotation dictates when we see nightfall and sunrise. It takes just under 24 hours for a full rotation. Which brings me to an idea I had years ago. Since the Earth spins at such a fast rate maybe there is a better, more economical way to travel to the west coast. Couldn’t an anti-gravity transport be built that rises to an altitude fixed on the stars to be independent from the land below. As you dine on fine cuisine you can look through the glass bottom as sites such as the Mississippi River, a few thousand MacDonald’s, Wrigley Field and the Grand Canyon slide by underneath. Of course, the transport would have to rise higher as the spinning Earth neared the Rocky Mountains. Coast to coast would take a little more than 2 hours. By the time you are eating your Crème brulee, you will be in Los Angeles. Crème brulee, a dessert from France, translates to English as pudding with a burnt top. Of course, it will only work east to west because of the direction the earth spins, but what a trip it would be. However, it won’t be operative until I perfect and patent my anti-gravity transport.
Maybe that touring transport could get its bearings from one of the many constellations we see in the night sky. The first one most of us learn about is the Big Dipper. It gets its name because it resembles a dipper and it is big.
To find the Big Dipper’s cookware cousin, the Little Dipper, you can use your knowledge of those “connect the dots” games you played as a child when you tried to ignore the sounds of the dentist’s drill in the next room. Begin by finding the two stars at the far end of the bowl of the Big Dipper. Named Merak and Dubhe, you connect a straight line from them until you find the brightest star in our sky, Polaris. Polaris is the first star in the handle of the Little Dipper. It was also the name of our Navy’s first nuclear-armed ballistic missile that luckily was never used.
Another popular constellation is Pleiades also known as the “Seven Sisters.” It includes the stars named Maia, Electra, Taygete, Cilantro, Alcyone, Sterope and Merope. They are named for the daughters of a Titan named Atlas. Atlas, who never made the starting lineup of the Tennessee Titans, is best known for inventing a book of maps, now made useless with the advent of the internet and MapQuest. For my readers, I purposefully included Cilantro to keep you on your toes. Cilantro is not a star but an edible herb.
Pleiades is known as an open star cluster because the stars were born around the same time and are almost equidistant from Earth. Which brings me to another eye opener. When we look at constellations like the cookware Dippers, we envision them on the same two-dimensional plane. In fact, they are not. Stars in constellations can be many different lightyears away from Earth making them three-dimensional.
Another dimension, The Fifth Dimension, was an American vocal group who in 1969 had the hit song Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In. Aquarius is one of the most recognized zodiac constellations.