Star Gazing | Maldives
Did you ever have Starlab in elementary school? It was a blow up dome set up in the gym and had a little inflated tunnel you had to crawl through to get in. After crawling on all fours (the teachers must have had to army crawl if the elementary students had to crawl on all fours), everyone would lay down around the perimeter. The dome would be pitch black until an instructor flipped a switch and a projection of the night sky appeared. The instructor would teach us legends behind different constellations and point out our astrological signs. S/he could swap the projection to show only the stars, the lines connecting the stars of a constellation or an image of the animal or person the constellation represented layered over the stars. Star lab is where I learned about and still remember where to find Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, the North Star and Orion's belt. It was amazing.
On our first night in the Maldives, we sat on our private over water deck in awe at the sky above us: galaxies and constellations sparkled against a deep navy background. under the canopy of stars, we discussed life, the future, current events, and what we were thankful for. we saw five shooting stars that night, which i took as a celestial, "welcome to paradise".
A few nights later, we found ourselves looking through a giant telescope on the beach at the moon and Saturn. Saturn looked like an image from an early 90’s video game; a solid yellow circle with a perfectly distinct ring around the outside. As for the moon, I had seen pictures of it up close, but had never seen it in such detail with my own eyes. As an added bonus, we were able to hook my camera up to the telescope to take some pictures. Talk about a telephoto lens! The General Manager of the resort, aka our real life star lab instructor, pointed out Scorpio with high powered laser, a constellation I had completely forgotten about since my elementary school days of Starlab. I felt like a kid again, unburdened by what had to be done and accomplished and free to appreciate what was happening in the now.