4:40 a.m. 42 degrees F: Decided to recommit to my morning walks. When I first went out, it was so dark I couldn’t see anything but stars, and they were magnificent! ORION was huge and prominent in the southern sky. I just stood in front of my house for a while, wondering why I don’t spend more time outdoors after dark — or before light? Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I started walking slowly up the road. I spotted the BIG DIPPER low on the northern horizon and followed the line from the two stars at the front of the dipper to POLARIS, the Pole Star, the North Star. It’s the star at which the northern axis of the Earth points at all times and in all seasons. I use it to anchor and orient myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed by how much I don’t know about the sky, astronomy, outer space, the universe, etc. When I was up the road a ways and out of the trees, I turned back to Orion and followed his belt down to SIRIUS, the Dog Star, the brightest star in the sky. I also looked way out in front of Orion and think I saw the PLEIADES, the Seven Sisters, who I’d only be able to count with the help of  binoculars. I heard a BARRED OWL hooting, maybe more than one, and when I was on my way home, I heard Buffy’s ROOSTER crowing at 5:23 a.m. As I continued slowly toward home, I noticed that the stars were fading in the early morning light. I’ll have to check this morning’s Civil Twilight and Sunrise times. I’m glad I made myself go out on this early morning walk — one mile, one hour, and not a dull moment. (CIVIL TWILIGHT was at 5:57 a.m. and SUNRISE was at 6:26 a.m. this morning)

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