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Brightness of sound

December 11, 2012

The stars shone with absolute clarity on Monday night. As I let the dogs out into the garden the bright spark of Jupiter dominated the sky. With a pair of binoculars I could clearly make two of Jupiter’s attendant moons before the cold drove me back indoors. These dry cold nights are the most rewarding for star gazers, so many more stars and galaxies flow into vision. But it is not just the stars which are clear, the sound world itself also becomes sharper and brighter.

It was not until the small hours that the shrill call of a vixen came like a sharp jab through an open window. Foxes are very vocal at this time of the year, their territorial part scream part bark can come as a surprise to the unaware. The vixen travels over considerable distances calling constantly as they map out the night time geography of their patch. As I lay in bed listening the sound map of the railway line and the vixen’s wider circuit was delivered by the regular repetitive call. This carried on until the air could no longer transmit the most distant call.

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Star walk – 7th November

November 9, 2010

The falling temperature and clear night sky highlight the benefit of having a railway footpath through the Parish. An early evening walk was transformed by the superb clarity of the night sky on Sunday evening. The absence of any light from the Moon (the November full moon does not occur for another two weeks) serves to enhance the visual impact of the stars. The old railway line is the best spot to sky-watch from, as it is raised on an embankment for much of its length and this provides an unrivalled view of the heavens.
The brightest light in the sky at present is the planet Jupiter. The most recognisable constellation is the Great Bear. From this handy reference point we stumbled our way from constellation to constellation around the sky. We soon got the hang of the tour; aided by a star map we jumped from Cassiopeia to Perseus, Taurus and the Pleiades and on to the magnificent square of Pegasus, before the cold started to count as the Whippets shivered and we wandered towards home.
A late pair of late firework displays at Marsham and Buxton provided extra entertainment on the way home.