Sirius

When I was four years old, Mom and Dad frequently read to us out of a small storybook about the New Testament. One of the pictures from that book which sticks in my head is of a starry sky over Lake Galilee. The stars in the picture, contrary to my experience at the time, were multi-colored--like a sky full of Fruit Loops. Although that would have been my preferred experience of the sky, I knew it was false, and I probably asked Mom and Dad endless questions about why the stars over Galilee were colored while ours were a bland white.

Well, tonight, while walking back from supper here in Tucson, a city which regulates night-time lighting to maximize star viewing even in the downtown area, I spotted Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Right now, it appears beneath the contellation Orion, about 15 degrees closer to the horizon.

I had to look twice because what I saw was unbelievably bright, and it was twinkling in so many different colors--red, green and blue, at least--that I thought at first it was a far-away plane coming in for a landing.

Looked it up when I got inside and found that Sirius is considered "the king of the twinklers." I don't think it twinkles in the Minnesota night sky, but here in the clear desert air of Tucson, after a day which was perfectly cloudless, Sirius was really putting on a show. Sirius is usually more towards the blue end of the spectrum, but tonight it was busyly changing from blue to red to pink and green in quick succession.

One of the pleasures of Tucson: A twinkling, clear winter sky with weather warm enough to get out and enjoy it.