Thursday, August 11, 2016

Looking For Mercury...

"It's really hard to see--if you look just above the island," my oldest son said as we gathered outside tonight in the driveway. "It's really faint--like sometimes it's there and sometimes it's not."

I found Venus and Jupiter. We could even see Mars, but for the life of me, I just couldn't see Mercury. Dusk faded as we stood, a trio of bats ravished unseen bugs in the air separating us and Mercury by  millions of miles. A creature stirred at our feet, one of two cats that tolerate us. This one hunts at night--the other, stays inside.

"I can't see it," said the youngest who followed his mother and big brother outside to see what they what they saw. I couldn't see it either.

"So, where is it?" I focused. I looked west where colors slowly faded. "It's not in the blue, but still in the orange, but not the bright orange," I said. This had been explained to me earlier. I really wanted to see that rock, the closest planet to the sun in our solar system.

"Where is it over the island?" I asked. They said you look from the highest point on Antelope Island and travel the line north. I needed to spot a line of thin clouds. I followed the line and found the clouds. "I've found the clouds--where it is from there?" They told me it was at the north end of the clouds and about two times as high from the clouds as the clouds were from the island.

I looked again, right where they said.

And I saw a dot, a fleck of light as if I had earned the right to see the planet so far away.

"I see it!" And I did. As soon as the speck of light appeared, it disappeared--there one moment, gone the next. Tonight I spotted an object between seventy-seven million and two-hundred and twenty-two million miles away. 

"That was cool."

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