A Sense of DNA Level Déjà Vu [Part 2]

 

Throughout Part 1, you and I began reliving my overnight, in the wee hours of July 28th telescopic “travels” to Mars… at a point where the red planet had been scant days shy of it’s closest encounter with Earth since August 27, 2003.

By that post’s conclusion, we’re arriving at the moment of first contact… my first, telescopically enhanced, visual contact with the red planet in nearly 15 years. I begin sharing my initial feelings of the moment… earth-shattering impressions one need not be an astronomer… either professional or amateur… to experience and appreciate. I wind up concluding…

“A transcendental moment, such as this, is where one’s worldly concerns dissolve into the rarefied air. Minds tend to free associate / wander and welcome the timelessness of it all. A sense of DNA level déjà vu also enters the mix… after all… has not humankind been stargazing ever since first standing up on two feet? Ever since that (then) newly evolved posture first allowed us to look upward to the eternal heavens?”

As Part 2 begins… we now return to my backyard open air observatory… my eyes and mind still effortlessly wandering the heavens. I cannot help but feel (right down to my infinitesimal DNA) that sturdy bond with the multiple hundreds of generations of human stargazers before my time.

At the very first glimpse of Mars in my scope’s eyepiece, my time traveling / traveling the heavens begins. Flashbacks first send me to my previous, August 2003, telescopic, close encounter with Mars and, next, back to April of that very year… when my own mother’s change of address had involved her new heavenly home. And that, too, reminds me of how I had chosen a heavenly / stellar theme for her memorial service… had written… had interwoven… the very stars into the eulogy I had delivered to honor her…. to chronicle her life and times… to remind all in attendance of her star power.

Long before this night, I’ve realized that it matters not if my observations are telescopically enhanced or naked eye… whenever I’m gazing up at the starry skies I cannot help but feel that unbreakable bond with my forbearers… my unshakable belief that both of my parents’ loving, protecting instincts are still intact and alive… that their eternal spirits are gazing right back at me. And I suspect I shall continue to harbor such perceptions until I join them, someday… when, upon my arrival, I wind up partying right alongside them at that ultimate family reunion in the sky!

My thoughts soon crossfade to my very first, fresh out of the packing carton, telescopic viewing session on April Fools Day ‘97… just in time to eyewitness The Great Comet of ’97, Hale-Bopp… observe its flyby into our inner solar system’s local neighborhood. More crossfades ensue. I’m now revisiting long ago, memorable viewing sessions involving my first time encounters with Saturn… my being wowed by its almost surreal system of rings… my also inviting my Mom to eyewitness this natural wonder on the grandest of scales… and her being wowed, too. I also recall my first sighting of Jupiter and its four Galilean satellites… as well as my earliest deep space visits with The Pleiades / The Seven Sisters and Orion’s Nebula and Trapezium Cluster.

Imagine that! All of these cherished memories occurring while standing beneath… in the midst of… this marvelous Mars July ’18 moment… while all the details of this close encounter are getting written into the annals of astronomical history… are concurrently being imprinted / indelibly burned into my own memories.

My thoughts now crossfade to my boyhood days… to a time when I first came down with my “bad case” of Mars Mania… all of which I’ll be fondly recalling when I post Part 3… later this week.

 

 

A Sense of DNA Level Déjà Vu

 

As I commit this black font to white screen, it’s been approximately 36 hours since my reluctantly “returning” to Earth. Much transpired leading up to, during and since my “journey” and… via the following account… I now begin to relive my “travels” thru space/time.

Once again, I find myself venturing forth into out-of-doors overnight… the wee hours of Saturday, July 28th… experiencing the sensation of being enshrouded by the unseasonably chilly air…12.8ºC / 55ºF [Note to self… next time don both jacket and dew resistant footwear].

My 2 orbs panning, upward, across the 2 a.m. heavens, I find 2 orbs instantly, intently, “staring” back at me… our dazzling, milk-white, Full Moon and, not far beneath it, its celestial BFF… the vividly reddish-orange, planet Mars… scant days away from its closest encounter with Earth since August 27, 2003. For a moment I chuckle… might Mars’ orb / eye be deemed bloodshot?

My thoughts now dismiss the frivolous / focus upon the factual. I mentally note, crunch and compare the specific orbital data of each new millennial, Mars/Earth rendezvous… 2003’s distance apart had been 55.8 million km / 34.6 million mi compared to the here and now’s projected 57.6 million km / 35.8 million mi.

My naked eye observations of these spherical apparitions have instantaneously prompted my I’ve-Gotta-Get-A-Closer-Look reaction. Rushing back inside, within mere minutes I’m lugging out and setting up my 90mm refractor telescope / tripod and transforming my home-turf into an open air, backyard observatory.

Regrettably, proximity, alone, is no guarantee of ideal seeing conditions… especially when peering at dinky Mars through such a small, low tech scope. The other factors in play will be [1] Earth’s rotation, which… @460 meters per second / 1,000 miles per hour… is constantly making a motion picture out of our nighttime skies… [2] the tilt of Earth’s axis positioning the red planet too low in the southwestern, hazy skies… [3] the sky awash with both lunar brightness and manmade light pollution… [4] the ongoing “game” of planetary peekaboo “curtesy” of two, nearby, towering, deciduous trees.

Even so, this amateur astronomer relishes any opportunity to experience the grandeur of our little corner of the universe… views any need to repeatedly relocate and realign his unwieldy scope to be a labor of love.

And now that I’ve accurately trained my smaller, finder scope’s crosshairs, it’s time to peer through the eyepiece… get my very first, optically enhanced, glance at Mars in nearly a decade and a half. I can feel my facial muscles forming a slight, contented smile.

The still of the night’s “soundtrack” is now “in/on the air”. The “musical genres” inclusive of my “easy listening” rhythmic breathing… the “one hit wonder” of brief, off in the far distance, spooked crow’s caws… the occasional “garage band” roar of 18-wheeler semis barreling down the faraway, highways and byways… the “classical flautist” inspired unexpected, mournful blasts of a miles away, freight-train engineer’s horn.

A transcendental moment, such as this, is where one’s worldly concerns dissolve into the rarefied air. Minds tend to free associate / wander and welcome the timelessness of it all. A sense of DNA level déjà vu also enters the mix… after all… has not humankind been stargazing ever since first standing up on two feet? Ever since that (then) newly evolved posture first allowed us to look upward to the eternal heavens?

 

Stay tuned for Part 2… to be posted later this week.