Saturday, October 06, 2007

Rhythms I can count on

Individual birds fly silhouetted across the face of the moon at steady pace. Their frequency is such that I can step away from the scope to let others observe. It doesn't take long to see one of the birds fly across, little wings flapping laboriously to cross our field of view, sometimes two or three can be seen at once.

It isn't uncommon to see to objects cross the face of the Moon. Many have probably seen airplanes cross the lunar disk, their trailing exhaust undulates the light of the moon as if we were watching its reflection on a disturbed lake. The migrating birds evoke a different sensation than passing aircraft. It is a natural clock that ticks off a different time. On our recent lunar observing sessions, we see the birds fly south. Outside of the eyepiece with naked eye, occasionally we see thin black ribbons against the bright urban night sky. Intrigue and mystery remain even though we soon discover the source these oscillating, sinuous Vee formations. And in months ahead, we'll see them return though heading in the opposite direction. A clock that ticks by the rhythm of geese.

Another rhythm that resonates with me is one from the regularity of the TIME'S UP! cyclists. I look forward to these monthly occurrences. On their approach, like the geese their formation is a quivering line of small lights seen across Central Park's Great Lawn. Even for an astronomer, the headlamps and blinking safety lights do not cause distress. Eventually, bikes rest and lamps extinguished, the lively spirit of the crowd illuminates our area. The Central Park Moonlight Ride occurs on the first Friday of the month. Cyclist Richard leads a pack of riders, that grows and shrinks in size depending on the season and weather. If we're out with scopes, he makes a point to make a brief stop at the top of the lawn for chat and observing.

Alternately, on the last Saturday of the month, the Riverside Ride, the riders stop on a clear nights. On this evening, people share stories of their astronomical experience and some express their first time fascinations of observing in a telescope.

Lastly, I can count on Andy & Masha for a rhythm of greater frequency, more closely related to the day. Always nearing curfew, dog-owner Andy comes by with Masha. He too may pass with others or on his own. What's more important is that I rely on Andy, TIME'S UP, and the geese to free me from the ordinary tick tock of circadian rhythm .

Click to see the 18 day 21 hour moon on 30 Sept 2007.