Tokyo Night Sky

Lack of fishing – for a number of reasons – has made me pursue other past-times, including rod building and lately, astronomy, of the most amateur variety: using no glass at all.  The ingrained habits of an angler mean I have no problem with rising at uncivilised hours, nor mind the cold at all.  Well I missed out on the lunar eclipse of Dec. 20/21st – it should have been visible here in Tokyo in the afternoon – but we had rain and low cloud cover all day making an observation impossible.  However, the following day the skies cleared with a strong north-easter blowing all day, and with the extra clarity that evening I was able to pick out a remarkable number of celestial bodies despite the horrid viewing conditions here in the big city.  Sirius was most notable, and even with my Olympus point-and-shoot camera I could capture him from my vantage point:

It doesn’t come out in the photo but I assure you the star was a quite striking blue; hardly surprising the natives here refer to Sirius as aoboshi.  Later in the evening most of the Orion constellation was visible, and also most gratifying for anyone interested in the sea, Castor and Pollux.  The strong winds and clear skies continued the following day, and at about 2:30am I was treated to a view of Saturn, which means of the planets in our solar system most easily remarked by naked eye just Mars and Mercury remain to complete the whole shooting-match (with my limited understanding, I will be able to make observations of these planets in the next couple of months).  It has been most gratifying to list all the stars and constellations I have managed to pick out, with just my glims and an online astronomical chart, in spite of being in such a light-polluted place as inner Tokyo, and being continually confounded by my balcony overlooking the easterly air approach to Haneda.  Perhaps a visit to the inaka – with a glass, thermal underwear, Thermos filled with boiling hot coffee double-shotted with rum, and concluded with a soak in an onsen – is in order.

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