poetry and prose about place

places off-planet #1 – watching the stars

with 6 comments

For me, star-gazing is a warm-weather activity.  The winter, although dazzling in its displays of stars, is too cold for my arthritic joints and the immobility of prolonged star study.

So, as May approaches, I am looking forward to spending some time outside, to locate some old friends in the sky and to meet some new sky-folk!

I am lucky to live in an area not overly polluted with night light.  At our home, although trees make viewing sporadic, stray light from street and yard lights is not a problem.  At our lake property, the surroundings are utterly dark and the sky is stunning, studded with stars.

If you want to do some stargazing, you need three things to get a good start:

  •      a star chart or a planisphere (a combination of a star chart and a viewer). My favourite planisphere is downloadable and printable, from the National Research Council at

  •      a reclining lawn chair (so you can relax and your neck will not ache)
  •      a flashlight with a clear red cover (this is to prevent your eyes from becoming light-adapted as you check the star-chart).

Another helpful item, to see groupings of stars more clearly, or to see details of the moon:

  •      a pair of binoculars

Are you a stargazer?  What are your favorite ‘tools-of-the-trade’?



the search for wind

and stars


these are not the winds I sought to stand in

I wanted a zephyr to ruffle the bluets in spring

a breeze to whip the silver wind chime to frenzy


instead I cower from night moans

the rattle at the window

the street where a dust daemon lurks

near every wall, lifts the leaves

grinds them to powder


I gaze at the skies

watch for Altair and Orion

the never- random pulse to signal man


but all the lights in the night sky

are not stars

the moon who solemn watches

as his face is peeled away

the comet drawing scant thoughts across darkness

its tears a storm of falling stars


I walk with sorrow

it rests behind the eyes

and cannot swell to tears


the truth so simple

yet impossible to know-

you need only stand

and the hill will form beneath your feet

and the roaring shrink

to the breath of love across your face


©  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

April 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

6 Responses

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  1. Some of my most memorable moments in life involve stargazing. As a child, while on vacation in August, I would lie on the beach for half the night watching the stars and the meteor showers. As an adult, the two places I remember best are on a beach near Lake Michigan (I think that’s the first time I ever experienced true darkness as there were no lights at all nearby and it was almost frightening at first, not being able to see my hand in front of my face or anything else without a flashlight), and high up in the Rocky Mountains where the air was so clear you could see the Milky Way.

    Beautiful poem and drawing, Jane. 🙂



    May 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    • Hi Robin. Nice memories. Because of the number of trees we have, our best stargazing is at the end of our driveway! Jane


      jane tims

      May 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

  2. There is something so satisfying about following the lines of the branches in early spring…and something so entrancing about the full moon. Watch the moon on May 5th… It’s supposed to be huge!



    April 27, 2012 at 7:35 pm

  3. Wonderful drawing – I guess I’m more of a moongazer than a stargazer. Sometimes I try to watch a meteor shower, lying on the ground. You gave some good suggestions – I never thought of getting off the cold ground with a reclining lawn chair! I’ve seen a couple of shooting stars when I wasn’t looking for anything in the night sky and seeing them arc across the sky was magical…


    Barbara Rodgers

    April 27, 2012 at 10:04 am

    • Hi Barbara. A lot of what I’ve seen has been by mistake. We saw a satellite come down once, an impressive display! Jane


      jane tims

      April 28, 2012 at 6:35 am

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