Day #159 Astronomers we are not

Yes, the Mister and I got out of the house on a date last night! A little pre-birthday celebration meal made possible by his mother visiting us for the weekend, which let the two of us slip away after Hawkeye’s bedtime.

We had a lovely meal at Charlotte Quay which has been open for a while but which we hadn’t been able to try before now. The site has been the location of a previous favourite of ours, the Ocean Bar, which sadly went into receivership during the recession and the place spent a while as a less-well-liked Mourne Seafood Bar restaurant. The place has great views of Grand Canal Dock but suffers from a footfall issue, being located at the edge of a pier where there is no accidental traffic to draw in people.

Afterward we came home and spent an hour just sitting up in our (newly accessible!) garden enjoying the somewhat-balmy night over some drinks. The Mister brought up a tumbler of whiskey and I brewed a cup of tea to take the chill out of the wind that had picked up while we were eating.

It was lovely and peaceful. There was not a cloud in the sky when we sat down. Sadly, Dublin is not a place where you can stargaze, what with being a city and full of light pollution everywhere you look. However, the garden light was rather overgrown by ivy so our own location was dark enough that a few of the brightest stars were visible to us.

Now, we neither of us are astronomers. My own knowledge is limited to being able to locate the Big Dipper and Polaris. There were two very bright points high overhead above us and I asked the Mister if he knew what they were. After some thought, we both decided the brightest one must be actually be the planet Venus, but we didn’t know the name of the lesser bright one.

On a whim, however I decided to download one of those Night Sky apps on my phone. The Mister already had one, but when I looked over he was busily engaged in a comical dance with his phone as he struggled to calibrate his compass to get his app working, so I decided to try a different one. Star Walk 2 had the benefit of providing us with some lovely mood music while throwing up some beautifully rendered 3D images of the constellations (I’m going to get the full version of the app later, it’s just too cool).

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We discovered we were both wrong and we were, in fact, looking at Jupiter, which I had not realised was visible to the naked eye. The other bright star turned out to be Arcturus, which I now know to be the third* brightest star in the night sky. But, being out on a date, and not feeling particularly grown-up or feeling even the slightest desire to be very mature at that particular point, that was not what first caught my eye about the star.

“Hey, that star I was asking you about? It’s some guy’s crotch!”

The Mister looked over at my phone and nodded his head knowingly when he recognised the name of Arcturus.

“Yes, well… crotches and loins – they were very important in Greek and Roman mythology, you know? I mean, most of Greek mythology is about all the gods having sex all over the place, and the other gods going ‘C’mon, Zeus, don’t fuck that girl.’ and Zeus then goes and fucks that girl and you have more gods.”

“Didn’t Athena spring from Zeus’s head as a big headache?”

“Eh, heads… crotches… Doesn’t really matter when it comes to Greek gods.”

It was a good date!


Wikipedia will tell you it’s the fourth brightest star in the night sky, but that’s only because the eye can’t distinguish the separate sources of light which form the two main components of Alpha Centauri, as they are too close together for the eye to resolve separately. Arcturus is therefore *appears* as the fourth brightest star, but it is, in fact, the third brightest *individual* star. Now you know (information provided by Star Walk 2 App)

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