Friday, March 30, 2007

Different Perspective on the Universe

This is an image of Orion viewed from the Southern Hemisphere.

I remember getting off a bus in Bolivia, back in August and being taken aback by the brilliant sky. I realized that the constellation the Southern Cross is only visible in the Southern Sky and thought 'wow, I am now looking at a whole different perspective on the universe!!' I connected the dots to construct a giant cross spanning the entire sky and wondering if I had found it.
Because the night sky in northern Chile is among the clearest, the region boasts many important observatories. At a tour at one of them, on top of Mount Mamalluca, outside of Vicuña, I learned that the Southern Cross is much smaller than I thought. The guide used a laser pointer to show us various constellations. I also learned that I was misinterpreting my favorite constellation, Orion. I didn't take account for the fact that in the south, everything is reversed so I imposed his head onto his feet and his feet onto his head. Good metaphor for traveling to a new region, eh?

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