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On Constellations

02 January 201801:33PMviking-raidtravel

ursa major over Reykjavik

Grace and I went up to the hill overlooking Reykjavik again the other night, searching for some Aurora this time instead of fireworks. We didn't see any, but I did get to do something I could never have done before now.

This photo is the constellation Ursa Major, sometimes called the Big Dipper, over the skyline of Reykjavik. In Australia, we like to call the saucepan pattern in Orion 'The Big Dipper', but that's not technically correct.

I was halfway through pointing it out to Grace when I realised that this is probably the first time I've ever seen the (real) big dipper in person. Which sounds utterly strange, even to me, but it's true. While I've been to the northern hemisphere before, I've never been up here with enough sky knowledge to know what I was looking at. And I definitely hadn't had the photography knowledge, or gear, to capture it.

In 2014, I had just started at Scitech, but not in the Planetarium. I could probably point out the Southern Cross and Orion, but not really much else, and definitely not from north of the equator.

In 2015, I'd just started in the Planetarium, but I was still a complete novice. The fake Big Dipper phenomenon was still unknown to me, and while I probably could have found it with a map (or an app), its significance would've been lost on me.

I remember both of those trips like they were yesterday. If you asked me, I'd probably deny that I'd changed or learned all that much since then. I still feel like the same person. But I now find myself with pretty solid evidence staring me right in the face that I have changed, and that I have learned.

It's easy to focus on your mistakes. On the things you don't necessarily like about yourself, on your bad habits, or on the things you wish you'd accomplished but hadn't. It's nice to be reminded sometimes that you've grown as well.

 traced in constellations

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