Sunday, December 24, 2023
Issue 599: A Chaos Manor South Merry Christmas 2023
Yeah, muchachos, those exciting Yule eves sporting a giant
tree crowded by presents and a house of little ones unable to sleep. And me
sitting, a season of furious preparations done, watching for a glimpse of that
most numinous of all Christmas ornaments, Messier 42.
The years have passed as years do, crowding one upon another. Christmas is again on the doorstep—they seem to come thick and fast in these latter days. Here I still sit on the couch in the den with Chaos Manor South’s resident black cat, Thomas Aquinas, waiting for the sky to clear and for us to get a glimpse of the Great Nebula. Tommy and I are older now, but that is the only difference. Our hopes for clear skies on Christmas Eve are as firm and resolute as ever.
Admittedly, it doesn’t look as if those hopes will be borne
out this year. I was awakened at three in the morning by the weather radio
alarming its head off about flood warnings. By 9am, it began to
sprinkle. It would, looked to me, be a blue-eyed Christmas miracle if we got
even the tiniest sucker-hole.
But you know as well as I do the key to practicing amateur
astronomy successfully is being ready to take advantage of miracles, Christmas
or otherwise. To wit, I needed to have a scope ready. Oh, I could have just
said to myself that my old but still beloved Burgess 15x70 binocs would be fine
“just in case.” But somehow that didn’t seem in the spirit of the thing, my
traditional Christmas Eve look at “Orion,” as I simply and innocently called
the Great Nebula when I was a boy.
So, Tommy and I sat and waited. And waited. He watching
something or other on television. Me, naturally, ruminating on Christmases past
as I am wont to do on Yule Eves. Which one spells “Christmas” for me? There are
several, including some newer-ish ones, like the first Christmas I spent with
Miss Dorothy at the Old Manse. But if you are going to pin me down, I guess Christmas
for me is still and will forever be: Stars instead of Cars.
Here we still sit as it pours. The weather goobers are predicting 2-inches of
the wet stuff before morning. I’ll be surprised to hear the rain slacken, much
less see a single star wink through this mess. Them’s the breaks. I’ve
had a pretty good run of clear Xmas Eves of late, and, as always in amateur
astronomy, you take what you get. We shall sit a while longer, Tommy and
I. Till I finally drift off and a little black paw nudges me, telling me it is
time for bed.
Have a merry one. When we meet again in the new year, I
will tell you what the hell happened to my other yearly tradition, my annual
imaging run on the Great Globular, M13. Till then… “This is Chaos Manor signing
off and clear.”
As the Fates would have it, one of my Christmas gifts was "the Urban Astronomer's Guide", and I am enjoying it. Given my location in the Lake Michigan snowbelt, it may be weeks before I get a chance to use what I've learned so far, but patience is a requirement in this hobby.
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2024 for you and your hoard of telescopes ! And to Thomas Aquinas of course ...
From Mircea in Arad, Romania