Day 4

This is where you look at the stars. In the observatory, it doesn’t get much more romantic than this. Actually, I think Saffron and Nate might have had a romantic moment.

Dreams, Wishes and Star-Gazing

He put his arm round her again and together they wandered along the display cases. His closeness filled her with a mixture of confusion and delight that was unfamiliar and compelling at the same time. They stopped at some drawings of early optical telescopes.
“You don’t look through those any more, do you?” she asked.
He smiled. “We do, although here they also use radio waves,” he gestured towards the door, “from those big antennas out there. Whether we can expect a response to radio signals depends upon the hypothesis we’re testing. Some experiments take a very long time, some produce unexpected results, and some none at all.”
“So what does an astrophysicist actually do? What do you do?”
“Hang around, stare at a screen,” he said with a shrug, his eyes teasing, “drink coffee.”
She laughed. “I’m serious.”
“Someone has to wash up once in a while.”
She giggled again, gave up and leaned her forehead on his good shoulder. She felt his lips on her neck and at her ear. “Want to see what’s in the night sky?” he whispered.
“I’d love to.”
“Take your seat, Mademoiselle and enjoy the show. ” He headed for the doors to the foyer, but disappeared through a single camouflaged door in the wall next to them.
She sat in one of the comfy seats and watched him reappear at a tinted window higher up. As he moved around and threw switches, she saw LEDs twinkling like Christmas lights and then the wall lights dimmed and the auditorium fell into darkness, but she waited no more than a second in the fuzzy blackness. In a flash the ceiling claimed her attention, boasting a thousand stars resplendent in the night sky. She gasped and stared at the starscape as it slowly rotated, holding her spellbound.
The row of seats jiggled briefly as Nate reappeared and sat beside her. He put his good arm around her again and she nestled happily into his shoulder. He felt cosy and comfortable; a warm, comforting cushion.
“It’s better than looking at them outside,” she said, “they’re so clear.”
“It’s a simulated view from our latitude in the Northern Hemisphere and it shows you all the stars that you would see in a twenty-four hour cycle.” He pointed out his favourite constellations. “That one is Andromeda, the maiden chained to the rock to be eaten by the sea monster.”
She giggled, super-aware of their closeness. “Spare me sea monsters.” She snuggled into him more closely.
“And up there is Perseus, the hero who rescued her. Every autumn he sends meteor showers called the Perseids.”
“Very romantic,” she said, spinning on her own orbit of happiness. “Are you exploring any of these?”
“Right now we’re interested in the constellation of Alpha Centauri. It’s the nearest one to Earth.”
“Which one is it?”
“It’s not in this view. It’s one of the pointer stars to the Southern Cross in the Southern Hemisphere, in the constellation we call Crux.” He was studying her face, his own soft-focused in the starlight and an easy tone in his voice. “We can’t see it so well from the Northern Hemisphere, but I can change the display,” he suggested, but he didn’t get up to do it. His lips touched her cheek, his warm breath caressing her skin. “You are so beautiful, Saffron,” he whispered, “have you any idea what you do to me?” Then his mouth was on hers and he kissed her.

Observatories Around The World

You can see some ace observatories here:

Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawaii

Kitt Peak Observatory, Arizona

Best of Australia

From Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK

Check in again soon, we have more cosmic travels to do.

Thanks to Coffee ‘n Characters for hosting us

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Credits: Image by Coffee ‘n Characters

Post first published July 2013