Look up!

Astrological Observations from New York City

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
~Walt Whitman


… the balloon whispered itself fat with the hot air rising inside … It was so beautiful, with the light and the shadows dancing inside … It floated up above the apple trees, over the beginning-to-sleep town, and across the night among the stars.  
~Ray Bradbury (d. June 6, 2012)


New Yorkers never look up, that’s what they say, but maybe you were out of town, or curious, or practicing a new yoga move, and noted these reasons to glance skyward:

The Space Shuttle Enterprise flew over the Hudson on April 27 (it’s now safely on the Intrepid).

The Supermoon! Our Moon was both full and in a closer-than-normal orbit to Earth on May 7.

Perhaps you were interested in the “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse (May 20).

And that got you a bit nervous about Solar Maximum (2012-2013) and Mayan calendar end-of-world predictions (the end: Dec 21, 2012).

Now how cool was Manhattanhenge (May 29 & 30)?

On June 5 we experienced the Transit of Venus (Venus passed directly between the sun and Earth).

After all of that, you’re probably ready to look back down and let your mind do the wandering. Here are some ABRAMS titles to to remind you of the perfect silence:

Planetfall: New Solar System Visions by Michael Benson (Abrams Books, October 2012)


Babar Visits Another Planet
Babar Visits Another Planet by Laurent de Brunhoff (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012)


Full Moon and Star
Full Moon and Star by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Illustrated by Marcellus Hall (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2011)


Beyond: A Solar System Voyage by Michael Benson (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2009)


The Universe
The Universe: 365 Days by Robert J. Nemiroff and Jerry T. Bonnell (Abrams Books, 2003)


Lindy Humphreys is Director of Digital Assets and Publishing Technology at ABRAMS. 

Manhattanhenge photo courtesy of Chris Blank

on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
in Science
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