In the month of May I spent most of my time navigating the sky conditions to chase a great white whale of mine. I know, “Call me Ishmael” if you want… A friend of mine always says, “When Spica is high, Omega is up”. Well, yes in this hemisphere (northern) that’s true. This was the fourth season I attempted to capture it- AND finally did. Omega Centauri is the largest globular cluster in our Milky Way Galaxy. I’ve read that it even has a black hole in its center. Fascinating.
Just the thought of 10 million stars like our own, and many much stranger and larger; in close proximity absolutely sets my mind spinning. My solar observing and my Orion Project led me to research of Betelgeuse, Rigel, Saiph, and Bellatrix. Ultimately that led me to the “Internal Constitution of Stars” by Edrington. It’s a tough read for those not trained in the field, but I found it fascinating someone from 1926 could grasp something so far away. The beginning of the field I was told. Armed with a general understanding of what makes a star, it only entices me more to chase the globular clusters.
But looking at Omega Centauri, which I had the pleasure of doing from Marathon Texas a few years ago, and even my own dark site on a high hill facing south in North Georgia, leaves me haunted. The faint glow of the dense ancient dying stars have long since baked anything we understand as life (Still, I’m sure life could propagate in some other way I can’t imagine). Haunted though because for sure organics wouldn’t stand a chance. Was there life there ever? Who knows? I don’t, but I really would like to sneak up on an young globular cluster to study it. Such a beautiful albatross of death if there ever was such a thing.
So call me Ishmael and know that I stumbled into this chase just like he. There is no mention of Ahab in my story and I hope there never is for my sake. Timing left Ishmael to his fate… and me to mine. I got up close to my whale and survived. No need for a Rachael, I’ve got a Katie.
On a personal note, I do feel a touch of Ahab’s madness these days as I took a fall last weekend and tore my MCL. Ugh is right. Of all the times. I’ll recover, but it sure has put a damper on my nightly observing. Here’s to a quick recovery!