With the Naked Eye
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," and it's nice seeing you! Yes, I'm looking at you! Not closely. So you don't have to worry about that big pimple. Oh wait! Sorry! Well, it does show up to the naked eye.
Two things I absolutely love: birdwatching and star-gazing.
Two things I loathe: binoculars and telescopes.
Somehow, the moment I separate myself from the reality of the moment by gazing into a piece of equipment, I lose all interest. This is particularly true in bird-watching. Even if the bird I'm watching is tiny and far away -- so tiny and far away that I can't even identify it -- I don't want a pair of binoculars.
Yes, that makes me deficient in the warbler department. Guilty as charged. With warblers, you at best see a blur of yellow feathers scoot through a glade.
On the other hand, I've seen cedar waxwings, indigo buntings, scarlet tanagers, and yellow-crowned night herons without resort to technology. I can look at a bird soaring in the sky and tell you whether it's a hawk, an eagle, or a vulture. (Not a reach for me on this.)
Once I had the great privilege to be at the very northern end of Long Island during a prime waterfowl migration weekend. We're talking Montauk Point -- oh, what a lovely sight on its own! The whole area was plastered with birders, shoulder to shoulder, with the world's best telescopes, all primed and posed. Since I was young, pretty, and friendly, I got invited to peer through many of the finest scopes ... at scaups, I believe. But when I pulled away and took a stroll, far more exciting to me was that steady line of who knew what kind of bird, flying low across the waves, furious to beat it to the warm South before winter set in.
(No few of the birders, up close and personal, were a sight for the eyes as well.)
Having grown up in Appalachia, I have the same philosophy when it comes to stars. For the love of fruit flies, the mountain skies are so brimming with stars, how would one ever pick just one to gaze at?
Telescopes are no good for meteors. I am therefore a huge meteor addict. Give me a meteor shower, and I'm happy for days. It's also heartening to be able to pick out the constellations, which show up even in brightly-lit New Jersey. Orion is my favorite.
I write this because, last evening, an unusual celestial event occurred. A crescent moon was paired with both Venus and Jupiter. The clouds cleared just long enough for me to glimpse the spectacle, then it disappeared behind another front of rain.
The article I read alerting me to the event said that if I had a telescope, I could actually see some of Jupiter's moons.
That's okay. The moment was stunning to the naked eye.
In a way, my primitive star-gazing connects me to the Ancients, who had only this method at their disposal. They did pretty good with both birds and stars, and perhaps they felt more a part of the universe than masters of it. At least that's the way I feel by depending upon my naked eye.