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The Webfooted Astronomer - October 2000

 

Randy's Ramblings: A Not So Blind Date with Orion

by Randy Johnson, SAS President

ON Saturday afternoon I took a call at my home that I felt privileged to receive. It was really a call as much to all of you as it was to me. I'm just the guy listed as one of the official SAS contacts.

A dear, sweet woman called to say that she had called the Seattle Public Library and that she had been given my name and number as some one who could help out with a question about the stars. She started out by saying, "I am an old woman. I am 85 years old and have loved the stars of the constellation Orion all of my life. I look forward to seeing them every year on those crisp evenings in the middle of Winter. My eyes are failing and my doctor says that I will not be able to see much longer. Is there some place that I can go that I can see Orion for one last time."

She was aware that she might be able to view Orion in the morning hours but was wondering where and when specifically to look. We talked a little longer, and she went on to say that her son, who lives in the Laurelhurst area of Seattle had agreed to take her out and that she thought that she could endure a car ride of up to an hour and half duration if necessary.

She was very pleased when I told her that she could likely see Orion fairly well from Magnuson Park at Sand Point, which is near her son's house. I went on to give her directions to Rattlesnake Lake in the event that Sand Point didn't prove dark enough for her.

I told her that the main thing is that she have a clear view to the East-Southeast and that if she could be out in the pre-dawn hours around 4 a.m. she should be in good position for viewing. She was incredibly gracious and incredibly excited. I couldn't help but to feel good for her, though at the same time sad, as I projected her loss of vision on my own existence. There was no detectable regret in her voice as the call came to completion. Her parting comment was, "Thank you so much and have a good life!"

I only hope I can display a fraction of this kindly woman's grace and dignity over my time ahead.

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