16 March 2009

Stars and Lights

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
like a diamond in the sky

I had a weird moment tonight. It was one of those moments when I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing. I was out in the backyard with the dogs, enjoying the crystal clear night sky. The moon wasn't quite visible yet so there were only stars as far as the eye could see. I live out in the country, or the suburbs of a very small town if I wanna get cheeky about it, so light pollution isn't much of an issue. Anyway, the weird moment came when I made it to the back of the yard and gazed at the brightest of the stars. And, I swear to the gods, it was blinking. And not just blinking bright, then dull, then bright again. It flashed white, white, blue, red. White, white, blue, red. Over and over in exactly the same order and rhythm.

I have never seen this before and I don't know why.

It was so startlingly different that the phrase "UFO" actually crossed my mind before passing away just as quickly as it arose. Then I wondered if all the fireplace smoke in the air could be playing tricks on my eyes. Then I came in and checked out a couple of my most favorite spacey websites thinking there must be some grand scientific explanation. And I couldn't find anything of the sort regarding the current space weather. So, I went back outside to see if I was hallucinating. And there it was again. The brightest, lowest star blinking at me; it may be Venus for all I know. But it appears like just any bright star, except it's blinking and flashing. White, white, blue, red. White, white, blue, red. So, I said to myself, "Self, you must be hallucinating". Then I got the idea to check out the other stars. And all of the bigger, brighter stars were blinking at me! The smaller, fainter stars just glimmered with their usual sparkle. But each and every one of the larger stars blinked in vividly different colors.

The only plausible idea I can come up with is that I have been in front of the computer, on and off, for about 4 hours now and my eyes are playing tricks on themselves. But that doesn't really fit the situation either. I've been a hardcore internet junkie since 1995 and never have I seen the stars like this. And I've been a dedicated moon and stargazer for most of my life. Why did I never see this before? Was I not looking close enough? Was I not looking long enough? Did the gods just now decide to reveal this to me? Or did someone spike my 2% milk when I was looking the other way?

Even as I write this a thought occurs: maybe I'm just getting old. Perhaps now that my eyes are a little weaker I am only seeing these flashes of colors as my eyes can't handle the overall brightness of the stars. Is that possible? I wish I knew. No, that's not entirely correct. I'd like to know the answer. But, mostly, I hope, and wish for it to continue.

Starlight, starbright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have this wish I wish tonight


Maebius said...

I suppose the overly scientific explanation of cool airstreams above the ground-level warm air creates a thermal boundry which refracts point-light-sources and causes increased twinkling...
but I've seen similar displays, where a particularly awesome clear night makes certain stars (or an entire constellation once)twinkle in apparent patterns. It's a magical event, regardless of reason. I say just enjoy it, and the whole Mystery of Life. :)

Livia Indica said...

Maebius, your scientific explanation makes total sense, especially since Winter and Spring are still duking it out around here.

You're also right in that it was magical!

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Nice close-- Wishing for continuance...

I'd venture the Bright One was Venus-- even tonight she's very low in the western sky.. I was gazing at her not sixty seconds ago-- believe or no...

But the color-changing phenomena, and so consistent among all the stars... I can only guess atmospheric interference for some reason VERY RHTHMIC .

I'll go with you & Maebius-- Magic works for me...

Livia Indica said...

Yeah, I figure it must have had something to do with solar wind, the magnetic field or something like that.

But it sure was gorgeous, if a little off-putting.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

I remember seeing this phenomenon in Englaand, when I was a small child.
Venus was, as ever, low on the horizon, and she was flahing different colours as she twinkled, too.
The mundane explanation is certainly diffraction through the atmosphere - it usually manifests only on thise stars (or planets, with their larger visible light-disc) closer to the horizon, though.
I've occaisionally seen the flash and twinkle on stars further up in the heavens. I've also noticed some very odd effects with the moon - moon dogs and such.
The physical explanation is fine as far as it goes, but for some of us - yourself among them I suspect - that just isn't the whole story.
And so I'd look for a deeper, truer meaning as well.
Maybe Above is calling strongly to you right now.
Terri in Joburg

Livia Indica said...

Aquila ka Hecate, you're quite right; there is more to this than meets the eye. Aphrodite (Venus) is one of my patron goddesses.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

nothing wrong in seeing the Goddess and god move through the scientific... Kinda proves them, in my e.. My Mind's Eye...

Anonymous said...

I've seen what you described--not always but occasionally. As someone else noted, just enjoy the mystery. Or maybe join the local astronomy club like I keep threatening to do.

Livia Indica said...

I just can't believe that it took 31 years for me to see something like this.