A year ago, if you’d asked me to look up in the sky and tell you which of the distant dots were planets and which ones were stars, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I’ve had a few wee hour adventures into the farmlands to watch a meteor shower, stared at a comet through a telescope and traced Orion’s Belt and the Big Dipper in the sky with my finger, but that’s the extent of my astronomical prowess.
So much of our world revolves around space now. The other morning, after we watched Declan slip planets from a cardboard solar system in and out of their box Dan asked me, “have we had a day in the last year where we didn’t hear the word Jupiter before noon?” I had to say no.
Our love of Jupiter runs deep. But we have affection for all of the planets, whether they are in books, on mobiles or on television documentaries. At a summer festival last year, friends looked on as Declan cried when Venus vanished behind a cloud.
Tonight, we were out running errands after sunset, and looked up at the waxing Gibbous moon in the darkening blue sky from the Sears parking lot in the bitter cold air. There weren’t any stars visible, but there was one planet, shining brightly right next to the moon. It was so vivid, I guessed it was Venus, but I came home and checked the Sky Calendar, which told me it was Mars. The three of us stood in there, pointing and oohing and making our guesses until we couldn’t stand the cold any longer. (According to that link, there is a “wind child” advisory here.)
If you are fortunate enough to be in warmer climes with clear skies tonight, or have a great North-facing window, be sure to tell Mars hello for us.