One of my earliest little-kid memories is looking out the window from my strawberry shortcake bed to a night sky full of stars. This was when I lived in Nashville, and a bright and glittery sky was not uncommon. I knew nothing of the stars then, except for maybe that “Twinkle Twinkle Little” song . . . .what were the words?
On California nights, I could see Orion beaming through clusters of blinking stars that crowded out the Heavens. The best was during camping trips, when the desert sky was so alight that it took some time to find Orion hidden amongst them.
When I moved to London, half a world away, I could still find Orion. Whenever I was homesick, I would think about how my family back in California, camping without me, could also see that same constellation, even if their nighttime was different from mine.
Maybe it’s silly; the same could be said of the moon as of the stars, but still. Orion made me feel better.
Moving to Australia, I realized the sky would be a differently lit sky. Down here, the celestial view glimmers with a new cast of stars. One dark Melbourne night I watched as the hunter and his belt crept over the horizon. It’s a good feeling to have a familiar in a foreign place, but I was surprised and didn’t quite understand how this could be. I thought I had moved too far away this time.
Then a friend, who is far more knowledgeable about the astronomical lighting than I, pointed out that, yes, Orion is visible in the Southern Hemisphere, only it’s inverted and appears tipped on its side.
All those nights of stargazing, and I hadn’t noticed this difference.
I had never before thought about looking at the stars from the other side of them. This is pretty darn cool, and it makes me feel a little better on those days when I miss my people. They’re out there . . . . . just on the other side of the stars.