Skip to content

Starry Night

July 22, 2015

When I came home tonight, I looked up.

I do that every so often, especially on clear nights, because even in the city, even on a street lined with lamps, I can still see stars. There’s something magical in that.

I got to wondering tonight, as I traced the Big Dipper and tracked down Orion: Why do we name the constellations? Why do humans need to put order in the sky and see patterns up there? What does the names we choose say about us? Will we ever reach a point where the current Greco-Babylonian nomenclature is seen as out-dated and we’ll have new constellations or none at all?

Personally, I completely understand the fascination with the stars. They’re right there, and they move depending on the season, and being outdoors at night before electric lights must have been pretty impressive. I understand about the patterns too. We’re wired to see patterns even when they don’t exist, after all. It’s just kind of weird that we can look at the sky and see animals and people based on a few scattered dots, you know? It seems uniquely human too, somehow.

The naming of the patterns, and the stories, I think are my favourite part of the sequence, though. Why those names? Why those stories? Why the overlap from one culture to the next, and how much of that is cross-pollination? I mean, just look at the names, okay? Really. I have to say, I think I like the Arabic and Chinese versions a lot better than the official ones we get taught in the West. They capture the beauty of the night sky a bit more, I think.

Me, though, I’m more than happy just to gaze and wonder and enjoy, without putting labels on what I see. I can let my imagination drift that way. Go outside tonight and try it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 22, 2015 10:52 am

    Great topic. I agree with you. I’m in awe of the stars and planets, no matter what we call them. I’m just happy to gaze up at them and be amazed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: