It doesn't really fit this group, but this was my annual Christmas
post in sci.astro.amateur, a group that has unfortunately deteriorated
rather badly over the years...
For more than forty years, it has been my personal tradition to be
outdoors at midnight on Christmas... It doesn't matter which
midnight, it's a busy time of year, but I usually make both.
Tonight, I put on my heavy coat, my rabbit fur trooper hat, and a
pair of gloves, and stepped outside to greet Christmas. It wasn't
bitter cold at 23 degrees F, (-5 C,) especially for west-central Iowa,
but there was just enough wind to be uncomfortable. There was very
little sound aside from the sweep of the wind... The highways are a
bit slick for doing much traveling, and most people are staying put.
The sky was heavily overcast, leaden gray at the horizon and sodium
streetlight pollution orangeish overhead, but all in all, Christmas
card pretty. We'd been getting light snow on top of what we already
had, and I trudged out to the middle of the empty cornfield next to my
house through the fresh, unbroken snow. I was standing in the middle
of a shallow, white bowl... The white horizon showed clearly against
the dark sky, and trees, fences, and the taller stalks of cornstubble
showed up dark against the whiteness of the snow. The night was
worthless for stargazing... Up above those clouds, Orion would be
just west of the meridian as he always is on a Christmas midnight, but
tonight, there wasn't even any indication of the bright gibbous moon.
For anyone who loves the night though, most all nights are beautiful
in one way or another, and tonight was the kind of night where I could
admit that even the usually blindingly annoying streetlights were kind
of pretty... Looking north toward my little pop. 1400 town, they
seemed to compete with the Christmas lighting, and reflected off the
snow in the open fields around me. I checked my watch, and midnight
had passed while I was looking around. I headed back to my house to
type this, and then fill a few Christmas stockings.
I wish all my astronomical friends a Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas to all my woodworking friends too!!