Stars and planets



This morning I awoke after a long deep sleep and headed outdoors shortly before dawn. The weather was September cool, the sky clear. A huge blazing star caught my attention in the east. Time for the sky map, an app for the handheld which explains every star and planet in the sky.

The Mobius Sky Map solves the problem of light sources. All the old analog star charts had to be read in darkness, and so a light source had to be found by which to read it. The light caused one’s eyes to not be able to see the stars – a vicious circle. Today the star chart is its own source of light.

I walked up the road to a clearing, and there in all their glory were Venus, Mars and Jupiter in a rough vertical line rising from the eastern horizon. My sky map also showed that the sun was below the horizon, with Mercury near it.

The genius of these systems is that they work day and night. You can point them through the earth and they will show you stars you cannot see in the northern hemisphere. They pay no attention to the presence of the earth below your feet, the obstruction of trees or buildings.

The device locates your latitude and longitude via satellites, and from that inertial moment the rest of the stars and planets are displayed in the system according to where they should be, with little labels for constellations and stars. The system is beautiful and adds greatly to one’s enjoyment of the night sky.