It's my birthday this week. As more moons pass in my life, I feel less and less like celebrating this day. However, since my mother, brother and I have our birthdays three days apart from each other, I went home for a modest birthday party with family.
After a nice dinner, time to catch up with my family, and a "geek-out" session with my nephew about his honors Jazz concert, I walked outside and saw pristine skies! Autumn in Wisconsin can be very cruel to a hobby astronomer. The lower humidity teases the possibility of clearer skies for observation, free of the distortion of August's moisture. The drawback is that the transition from summer to autumn to winter means many cloudy days - and I mean many! That being said, when you get those rare nights when the skies clear, the viewing is clear and crisp!
Last night was a beautiful night for stargazing in central Wisconsin! Not only did I decide to set up my camera for some star photography, but I also broke out a simple, wind-up clock tracker that is designed to help my camera follow the movement of the night sky. The results were stunning! Below is a six image panorama stack of the Milky Way. Each image is a fifteen second exposure at ISO 1250 f/2.8.
To the left of the image is my parents house where I grew up and to the right is the horizon of our cow pasture. On the horizon to the right, you can see a really bright light peaking through a tree. That bright light is the bell tower of my home parish, St. Maximillian Kolbe. When I stitched this image together, the title of the image became clear, "Coming Home." Whether it be the house I grew up in, the spiritual house where I found my faith in God, or our galactic home, this image encompasses who I am as a child of God. I so like this picture that I think I'm going to enter it into a photo competition!
The rest of the night was both joyful, but also a little frustrating. I tried my first six minute tracked exposure of the Milky Way and my clock tracker worked like a dream! Too bad I forgot to lower my ISO from 1250... darn! Thankfully, I was still was able to pull back a nice image with some creative editing. I also broke out my fisheye lens, thinking I would do some neat distorted images of the farm. Right after setting things up, clouds rolled in... foiled again! Still, a clear night of imaging stars, even if it only be for a couple hours, was a gift indeed!
Autumn can be a powerful time of reflection about life, transition, change, death, and what comes after the winter snows of our Earthly journey's end. As I stood in my parents backyard, I was able to see how I have changed, grown, and developed. I also reflected on how, despite the change, I still remain fundamentally James Kurzynski from central Wisconsin. It was a powerful moment of trying to better understand who I am, who God is in my life, and who God made me to be.
Spiritual Exercise: How have you grown this past year? What transition is God placing in your life? How can the changing of the seasons (if you live somewhere that has season changes) be seen as a metaphor for change in your life? How do you want to change? How do you need to change? Pray with these questions, get out and enjoy some clear skies, and, together, let us know thyself better through the wonderment and beauty of God's creation.