Thursday, May 14, 2009

My star, Arcturus

I hate the word "favorite" in many ways because it is so superlative.

But I do have a favorite memory (in the non-superlative sense).

Two nights prior to my leaving on a mission for the LDS Church (this was July 2003), I realized to my dismay that I had only one evening — that evening — left to me as a pre-mission young adult. I had a slight moment of panic, during which I decided that I needed to go out with a bang. I jumped into my car and began driving to a friend's house, planning out the largest party of the summer with everyone I had ever known in attendance. Halfway to his house, however, I realized that that was not how I wanted to spend my final evening. I realized that more than anything, I just wanted to spend it with a few close friends, talking and laughing our way late into the night.

So I picked up Jason H. and Abby H. (no relation to each other or to me), and we drove up the canyon to stargaze late into the night. I believe we finally returned home around 2 or 3 in the morning. It was, I dare say, the most perfect way to spend one's final night before a long trip away.

That night was the perfect capstone to a summer of stargazing. Earlier that summer, one night while looking heavenward, I decided that I would pick out a star for me. A star that would be mine. My own home in the night sky. I also decided to choose a bright one; and not to be presumptuous, but so that I could find it again in the future. I looked up, and one immediately caught my eye: Arcturus.

Finding Arcturus is relatively easy, since it is one of the brightest stars in the summer skies. The process is pretty simple: first find the big dipper. Then, continue to follow the "arc" of the handle, past the end of the handle, until you find the next very bright star. That is Arcturus. The maxim goes: "Arc to Arcturus." The picture below will help.

As you can see here: "Arc to Arcturus, then spike to Spica."
As you can see here: "Arc to Arcturus, then spike to Spica."
Ever since that summer, Arcturus has been my friend in the skies. There's something comforting about having your own star, something you can see anywhere in the northern hemisphere and know that you are home. All throughout my mission, whenever I would see Arcturus, I would remember my good friends and family and know that they could see it too.

So the next time a summer evening rolls around and you happen to glance heavenward, find Arcturus for me (you can find it already pretty early in the evening). And when you do, say hello to me.

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