Tag Archives: stars

Small flowers in the garden – a series #4

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These little stars are peppered all over the garden.  They form a dense mat in the lawn and and in any garden beds.  It can take some effort to weed them out. However they are also a pleasure to see sprinkled about, at times reminding me of the myriad of stars that are pinpoints in the night sky.

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Wishing upon a star

This rose is opening in my garden today. It looked like a special star early this morning.
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I wish you all Peace, Love and Hope.

“May the Angel of Awakening stir your heart
To come alive to the eternal within you,
To all the invitations that quietly surround you…”
(John O’Donohue)

We know an awful lot about nothing

Friday last week was another day of high winds so I decided on a day at home using the sewing machine.

I turned on the radio and began to listen to an interview with Professor Gerry Gilmore, a New Zealand born Astrophysicist.


He is the principal leader of the Gaia project. My ears began to prick up more when I heard that the purpose of this project is to map, in 3D, 1 billion stars and the project had begun way back in 1990. Twenty three years is a long time to plan something.

The most precise telescope ever built, with the biggest camera ever made and including 10 mirrors will be launched on Wednesday 20th November 2013 from a site in French Guiana.

The destination of this amazing piece of equipment is 150 million kilometres away in outer space. It needs to be that far away from the sun, the earth and the moon to escape the gravitational pull of these celestial bodies. In order to function at its optimum it needs a gentle, stable environment and one which is shaded so it has a sun shield as part of it.

Pictures of the silicon carbide Gaia can be found here on the Radio New Zealand website.

Apparently the universe is expanding at a rate that is too fast and I would have to say that what I went on to learn from this interview caused my mind to expand at an accelerated rate too.

Gaia will take exquisite measurements of 1 billion stars, measurements equal to measuring a shirt button on the moon from earth.
• It will measure the whole sky, find what is up there and map it.
• And all this will be in 3D. A first for mankind.
• It will measure things in the sky 80-100 times, over 3-5 years because things move and will return to be viewed.
• It will find planetary systems and weigh them.
• Gaia will accurately weigh the Milky Way.

• It is hoped that Dark Matter, which astrophysicists know exists because without it the sun would fly off into outer space, may be understood in greater detail and potentially made visible thanks to Gaia and its technology. Dark matter has mass and can be weighed…..at this point my humble sewing seemed a mere speck in the great body of human achievements.

• It is also hoped that Gaia will discover and explain remnants from the early universe and explain reality around chemical elements and their relationships to earth and human beings.

source: clipart

source: clipart

If all this is not enough it is also hoped that IF Dark Energy is out there, and currently it is just a name and not understood at all, then Gaia might advance learning on this. Super Novae will be studied, critical distance calibration will be fine- tuned and perhaps answers to why the expansion of the universe is accelerating rather too quickly will be found. Suffice to say that learning will be stretched and more questions generated and more evidence accumulated.

The interviewer drew an analogy between this project and the days of the sea-going European explorers in the 1600 and 1700’s.

When Captain James Cook set off for the southern ocean he was tasked with finding land and mapping it. Other European explorers, such as Abel Tasman had reported back that there was land so James Cook had some data to work with. He was successful in mapping the coastland of my homeland and now we have a countryman who is heading an exploration of the heavens above us, seeking a 3D map of it all.

Here is a link to the Gaia project website. I will be following progress come November 20th 2013 with great interest. It feels a real privilege to stand on the edge of such awe inspiring discoveries.

No longer “in-waiting”

Our Japanese maple tree is no longer “in- waiting” for the autumn switch. The clear, crisp nights around and since the Super moon this week have seen a dramatic colour change on most of the tree and today the leaves are dropping in large numbers

At a glance, in the gloomy conditions today, the courtyard looks as if stars have fallen to earth.

It is as if the maple tree was like its owners, determined to hold on to any last vestiges of the Indian summer, but nature always wins and the seasonal shift is well underway now.

Earthshine, moonlight, stars and planets

We have been enjoying some warm, clear Indian summer days this week and with it has come clear nights. This past summer has been one of cloud, cloud and more cloud so viewing the night sky has not been an option.

The nights are drawing in here and daylight saving finishes this weekend so pulling the curtains is happening earlier. As I have been shutting the curtains I look into the western sky and I have spotted the crescent moon and with it two very bright objects.
I’ve checked and they are the planets Venus and Jupiter. The latter is fading fast and last night was not as shiny as it had been earlier in the week.

Jupiter from Voyager 1

When we came home from singing on Tuesday night I was able to gaze up at the sky at 9pm and see the familiar Southern Cross and all the other stars of our Milky Way. It is a comforting sight.

A fellow blogger Jo posted a very interesting piece earlier this week about Earthshine and that piqued my curiosity. The new moon has had this phenomenon occurring in our sky too this week and I have learnt a new word. Sunshine, moonlight, starlight are all old familiar terms but “Earthshine” has an enchanting ring to it.

Here is what Jo wrote about Earthshine and I would encourage you all to pop on over to her online magazine The Hazel Tree and read the interesting posts she writes as well we viewing the stunning photos she and her family take on their patch of earth.

“Earthshine is the faintly illuminated ‘dark’ part of the Moon, which is not lit directly by sunlight. Instead, it’s lit by reflected sunlight from the Earth.
The best time to observe Earthshine is when the Moon is a thin crescent, either while it’s new in the evening, or an old waning Moon at sunrise. For some reason that isn’t yet properly understood, it is much more noticeable during the months of April and May.
The phenomenon was first explained by Leonardo da Vinci in the first decade of the 16th century. Cloud cover on the Earth reflects more sunlight than land or sea, although snow and ice reflect up to 90% of sunlight back into space.
Earthshine is also known as ‘the Moon’s ashen glow’ or ‘the old Moon in the new Moon’s arms’.”

Flowering and time counting down

I am having a deliberately quiet morning after three really busy days. My head is full of lists and plans, which is normal for many people at this time of the year.

I have been getting out with my camera and I have photos to use on my blog in the future. I have also been aware of lots of ideas to blog about but we have a family wedding on Christmas Eve this year and naturally all our attention is on that, plus Christmas arrangements. Excitement is building.

Our beautiful Melia tree is flowering in great abundance and for the first time I have given more attention to it and delighted in the delicate fragrance from its clusters of mauve star- shaped flowers.

Rain has caused the flowers to begin to drop and this morning I stopped and picked some up. In an unconscious move I have arranged eleven of them in a clock shape…..it is eleven big sleeps until the wedding and we are all feeling the clock ticking I realized after I had arranged them.

The star shaped flowers speak to me of Christmas and the short time the stars are shining in our southern hemisphere sky right now as we head to the solstice.