UPDATE : 2017.11.16 목 11:07

[Vol. 72] Bright, Bright star

Where and how to observe celestial bodies 정규나 기자l승인2014.11.27l수정2015.05.08 17:20

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Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–

No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever–or else swoon to death.

 

This is the poem titled ‘Bright Star’ by John Keats, one of the most famous English romantic poets. He was a doomed man, dying of tuberculosis at the age of 26 in a house in Rome where he had gone to improve his health. He wrote his poetry in a brief five-year period and inscribed this to his fiancée. Many people recall their respective loves like John Keats, while looking up at the night sky. Maybe you must have looked upon the stars in the school yard or somewhere else in the open. And, especially in winter, the stars seem brighter. This is because the sky tends to be clearer and the light pollution seems to tone down this time of year. In addition, during December, January and February evenings, the part of Earth that we who are in the Northern Hemisphere, stand facing the spiral arm of the galaxy to which our sun belongs. Therefore, seasonally speaking, winter is the best time to go stargazing. While simply looking up and taking in sights can be satisfying in its own right, learning about exactly what you’re looking at adds a whole new level of satisfaction to stargazing.

 

You can observe constellations or other celestial bodies like the sun and the moon at our nearest astronomical observatory with under five thousand won per person. ‘Korea National Astronomy and Space Science Institute’ operates three optical astronomy observatories in Yeongcheon Bohyun-mountain, Danyang Sobaek-mountain, and Daejeon Taeduk. You can visit there at the designated times. You can find other observatories owned by each city.

 

Among the nearest observatories from KNUE, this reporter recommends Daejeon Observatory. It is the first observatory for public use in South Korea. The first observatory has one of the largest apertures in Korea, 10 inches. Especially, solar flares can be clearly observed with the solar filters. During the clear day time, you can observe the sun, and at night, the surface of the moon, planets, nebulae, clusters, galaxies, stars and any heavenly body. Professional instructors will help you to gaze properly. Every Thursday and Friday, Daejeon Observatory holds concerts and poetry readings about stars. It is offered without cost only if you make a reservation through the Internet. It also opens an Astro-gallery, for free. You can make romantic memories with your companion.

 

But actually, you don’t have to go that far. At KNUE greens or any dark places after sunset, there will be the moon and hundreds of stars shining overhead. By connecting star to star, you can search for constellations, too. Here are some tips on how to find typical winter constellations and northern ones and how they are derived.

 

Orion Constellation and Betelgeuse

 

Orion is the key, or signpost, for locating many of the other constellations in the winter sky. It is convenient to locate all of the main constellations around Orion once it is located. Orion was the son of the sea-god, Neptune, and the great huntress, Queen Euryale, of the Amazons. Orion inherited her talent, and became the greatest hunter in the world. Unfortunately for him, with his immense strength came an immense ego, and he boasted that he might be better than any animal on earth. In response to his vanity, a single small scorpion stung him and killed him, and Zeus placed his constellation in the sky.

 

Canis Major Constellation and Sirius

 

Orion had two hunting dogs, and the larger one was Canis Major who was chasing Lepus, the rabbit just in front of him. Lepus is just below Orion and Canis Major is just to the east of Orion. There is not much in mythology concerning Canis Major, but the star in Canis Major is important. The brightest star in Canis Major is also the brightest in the entire night sky – Sirius. Sirius is the dog’s nose, which is only twice as far as our closest stellar neighbor. Therefore, it is one of the guiding stars in winter with Betelgeuse of the Orion constellation.

 

Cassiopeia

 

Cassiopeia was the beautiful wife of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia, and the mother of Andromeda. The queen made the mistake of bragging she was more beautiful than the Nereids, or even than Juno. The goddesses felt, needless to say, rather insulted, and went to Neptune to complain. As punishment, Cassiopeia was forced to wheel around the North Celestial Pole on her throne, while spending half of her time clinging to it so she does not fall off. In this position, she spends half of every night upside-down.

 

Big Dipper or Triones in Ursa Major

 

There is not ancient Greek lore, but found in many cultures. The Asian myth about the Big Dipper or Triones, or in Korean, ‘The Seven Stars Shaping Dipper’ - This version of the myth had been created under the influence of Buddhism and Taoism. It said that the seven stars symbolize each organ, including the throat and tongue of the sky or sky-god. They are believed to control human destiny and weather, so people used to pray for rain, which was very important for farming.

 

Starlight is coming to us from hundreds of thousands of light-years. We look up toward those stars on clear nights. We connect star to star to create constellations, and we even read horoscopes believing that the constellations have implied meaning. When we want clearer observation, we go to an observatory and look into the senses of the astronomical telescope. Don’t lower your head all the time and see what is below – as there is more than just the earth. Now, raise your head and see beyond earth and look at the spacious universe. There will be the moon and the stars shining upon you. Come to think of it, being shined upon by the twinkling lights from the past is pretty romantic, isn’t it?


정규나 기자  gyuna3@hanmail.net
<저작권자 © 한국교원대신문, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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