Thursday, December 29, 2005


It has been glorious, morning by morning, to watch the waning Moon creep ever closer to the still-hidden Sun in the blue-purple morning sky -- past Spica, past Jupiter, its bow ever thinnner. Put an arrow in that bow and it would be pointing to the heart of the Sun, there, below the horizon. This morning the Moon was less than two days from new. Tomorrow it may be too old and frail to see, but I'll give it a go.

I walk the beach before sunrise. The sea lays pink and golden at my feet. On the eastern horizon dark clouds catch the first direct rays of the Sun. I try to feel the turning Earth, carrying me eastward at a thousand miles per hour to meet the Sun. But I can't. I know my celestial mechanics, but the Sun still rises, bubbliing up out of the sea. Was it Aristarchus who first imagined that the Earth turned and the Sun stood still? Or was it someone else whose name has been lost to history? It was surely one of the most original and counter-intuitive thoughts of all time.