Tonight the kids’ school hosted a stargazing party. I didn’t want to go, though I knew that it would be fun, because I’m cranky and tired and my ear hurts and I am poor company. We went, John leaving after the first little bit for work, and I stood there with my ear still aching from the cold wind, even under my hat and hood.
There were lots of clouds, but they were low and blew over. I think there were five or six high powered telescopes. The lenses were big as dinnerplates and the kids clambered up stepladders to see moon craters and nebula (nebuli?), and the funny, looks-just-like-a-1950’s-textbook-illustration Saturn.
I did have a good time, fatigue and ear pain notwithstanding. Just like I knew going in, we were the last family to leave. I had to extract the boys from a discussion (with visual aides) of the earth’s size in relation to other celestial bodies with one of the grown ups who’d brought a ginormous telescope. The girls wanted to see Saturn One More Time six or eight times.
It was past our bedtime, but really? what is a half-hour difference? They were so excited to see the grey craters, shadows, and mountains on the moon, the space dust, the stars. It was a gorgeous night and the clouds were so light and white they glowed. The moon looked clean and brighter than usual. I just stood back in the dark and watched, until I could easily pick out my children on the blacktop because they were the only ones left. Earlier in the evening, there were at least a hundred kids, many of them on the playground, thrilled to be sliding and climbing around in the dark. They’d get up close to one another and giggle as they tried to figure out who was who.
I looked through the telescopes, too. There is a star nursery, near Orion, where the dust that the stars were born from glows kind of like neon. I felt like that, that cloud, watching my kids whirl all around me, happily learning, marveling, laughing together in the pretty pretty night.