Milky Way

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Excerpt from Return of the Ancient Mariners

The night was dark with no moon. The stars were very bright, and they seemed so close. We gathered dead wood near the shore and started a roaring fire.

“Tim, look at the compass, look to the north star.”

Tim looked up to the sky. To the north was a bright star, it was larger and brighter than Polaris. Also this star was not at the tail end of Ursa Minor. Rather it was the tail end of Cygnus, constellation of the swan.

“Phil, what is that star? It is not familiar to me.”

“That my friend, is Deneb of the constellation Cygnus. It is now the polestar. Vega and Altair flank it to form a triangle of bright stars.”

“Yes I recognize the triangle but how can we have a new polestar?”

“If it doesn’t move tonight then it is the north star, the polestar.”

“But that is impossible, Polaris is always true north.”

“Apparently, the Earth has moved to a new position. I have been watching the sky for hours and Deneb has been steady at true north.”

“Phil do you see that bright star in Cygnus? Wow, it glows and just look at the spectacular colors emanating from it!”

“Yes I did notice it, I believe it is a supernova and the colors you see are clouds of stardust.”

“Really, it is a supernova like the Crab Nebula? That is amazing!”

“You don’t know yet how amazing it really is. I think we are now witnessing the beginning of the Cygnus Loop. A giant star exploded thousands of years ago.”

“Holy mackerel, how can that be? That would mean we are living in the past, somehow. We are transported.”

“The stars point to our transport more than halfway across the galaxy. Supernovas disperse and expand through time and space at a set rate. Also Deneb is now closest to true north not Polaris. It all has to do with the precession of the equinoxes.”

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