Hubby is an avid amateur astronomer… and an alliterative archetype, apparently. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the chance to string together eight A-words without using the word ‘anus’. We’ll get to that one later.)
Anyhow, Hubby is my go-to guy whenever I spot something in the night sky that intrigues me. I’m not much of an astronomer – I can spot the Big Dipper and Orion and the North Star, and that’s about it. So, early in the evening I’d point to a bright dot near the horizon and sing out, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…”
And Hubby would say, “That’s not a star, that’s Venus.”
So I learned to say, “Oh, look, there’s Venus!”
Then we got wrapped up in our move, and summer arrived with its long hours of daylight, and we didn’t have much time for stargazing. But the other night we were sitting beside a little bonfire enjoying a cold beverage and I pointed happily to the bright dot in the southern sky. “Oh, look, there’s Venus!”
Hubby said, “That’s not Venus, that’s Saturn.”
“Oh. Where’s Venus?”
“You can’t see it now. Planets move around, you know.”
“Right, so that explains why you haven’t mentioned Jupiter or Venus lately. What about Neptune? And weren’t you talking about seeing Mercury a few years back?”
“Yes, but you can’t see them right now, either.”
Mellowed by beer, my next question slipped out before I even considered it. “But you never mention Uranus. Can you ever see Uranus?” As soon as the words left my mouth, I started to smirk.
In the firelight, Hubby didn’t notice my expression, or maybe he was ignoring it in an attempt to keep the conversation above a third-grade level. “I saw Uranus the other night,” he replied seriously.
I couldn’t resist a straight line like that. “Dang, I guess I should have put on some underwear.”
He gave an ‘oh-lord-here-we-go’ eye roll, and I attempted to veer back to the path of maturity by adding, “So what does it look like? Can you see it with your naked eye?” (Yes, I said ‘naked’ with a completely straight face. See, I can act like an adult… for several seconds at a time.)
“No, it’s not very bright. Even with my telescope, it’s just a fuzzy gray ball.”
I blame the beer. My moment of maturity vanished without a trace. “Uranus is gray and fuzzy? That can’t be healthy. And you say you can’t see Uranus without a telescope? How does that even work? If you have to look in the eyepiece at one end to see your other end, you must be very flexible…”
By this time we were both snickering.
“Yep,” Hubby agreed. “It’s hard to get a glimpse of Uranus. I can’t even spot it without help; I have to enter coordinates into my telescope to make it point in the right direction and then I use a computer program to track Uranus…”
“Okay, I’m never gonna turn my back on that telescope again.”
The conversation ended in a blaze of glory… literally. We spotted a big meteor sailing erratically through the sky shedding sparks, and at that point we lost interest in Uranus… or anyone else’s, for that matter.
But now, inquiring minds want to know: Have you ever seen Uranus?