"I want to see that."
I sighed, I hope not too loudly. I was still an extremely amateur astronomer, not too sure of what I was doing.
My sighs precede my pontifications. We both know this. We've been together most of our lives.
"Well," I wanted to say, knowing all too well she already knew this, "a star is a point of light. It looks the same in the scope—a point of light."
But I didn't; I swung the scope towards the star, not expecting to see much.
I looked into the eyepiece, and gasped.
Almach, Gamma Andromedae, marks the end of the handle of the Autumn Dipper, visible high in the autumn night sky. Naked eye, it looks like, well, a star, a shimmery point of light, lovely as any other star, but not unusual in a dark moonless sky.
In a telescope, the star splits into two, one deep blue, one gold, as pretty a double star as can be seen in our hemisphere.
The light traveled about 355 years before bouncing off the mirror of the scope, exciting my retina, then my cortex. 17th century light. Photons dancing through nothingness since about the time King Charles I lost his head.
The gold star shines like 2000 suns. Both stars seen in the scope are themselves doubles, and the blue double is itself a double--Gamma Andromedae is at least 5 stars!.
Or say so the experts. Looking through the scope, I could not tell you how far they are. I could tell you there are at least two stars, and that their fiery golden and azure glow defy imagination. On any clear autumn night, you are welcome to come look.
And why did Leslie choose that star? She doesn't know. Just a feeling.
Reflection without constant scrutiny and deconstruction is as close to pure observation as it gets. Or as she said--just a feeling.
Albireo is the more famous lovely double in our hemisphere. Somehow I feel Almach is a gift from my wife, mine to share. And in a way, it is.