Mika Yamamoto Memorial Foundation



The year of displays of astronomy The joyful universe

Recently an astronomic event in the sky has been ongoing, and it is fascinating to watch the sky. There was annular eclipse of the sun a few days ago. When I realized that the next time we would be able to view it in Tokyo would be in another 300 years, even a night person like me got up early in the morning so as not miss to miss the opportunity.

On May 21, Tokyo was slightly cloudy in the morning. When I was on the roof watching the sky with solar eclipse glasses, a neighbor was also watching through the window. There was another family on the balcony of the condominium. "Good morning. It will be good if we can see it." We gave greeting although we are not close to each other in daily life. At the park in front of us, there are so many people waiting for the event with glasses and cameras. "Look! Here comes the ring!" All children were cheering. The slight cloud even made the ring clearer. It was the morning that all adults and children were watching the sky and enjoying the mystery of the magnificent universe.

When I was child, I dreamed of being an archeologist, traveling all over the world, and going to space someday. In my early teens, I eagerly watched the TV program "Cosmos/Space" directed by American astronomer Dr. Carl Edward Sagan, and read illustrated books about space. Television and pictures of the Andromeda nebula, the Pleiades nebula glowed beautifully and deeply drew my heart to the universe. When I went out, even in the sky at Yamanashi, I could see the Big Dipper, Orion, the Milky Way's rich flow, and even detected the small light of the Pleiades nebula.

It might be 30 years ago that Syzygy was in the news. Actually, it was not a true straight line, but it may be remembered because people were afraid it might bring natural disaster. It was the same with the story of the world ending at year 1999. Indeed, nothing happened.

I was excited when I heard that the event occurs every 100 years. And I remember that I was looking through the telescope, and was reading through articles in newspapers and magazines. There was no internet available that day. It was hard to search for things, but that was also the fun. I borrowed my father's camera to take pictures of the alignment of planets in a straight line (it only looked in line), and learned how to take a photo of the stars. My favorite photo is of three planets lined up toward Mt. Fuji. I can't remember where I put it now.

In overseas reports, I often visit dark areas that have no electricity, such as the forest deep in mountains or a desert area. I cannot forget the beauty of the stars in the sky I saw by chance after returning from a hard day of reporting. The most memorable one is the starry sky at Bamiyan, Afghanistan, located 2,500m above sea level. A sky full of stars was shining over the destroyed gigantic stone statue of Buddha. The stone Buddha was watching these stars in the sky for more than a thousand years. I felt the eternal history.

When the car stalled in a glen far away from the populated area, I just spent time looking at stars. In the darkness, there is nothing to do and not do. It was unknown whether the engine would start again. "I am in a battlefield far away from Japan. Only a few people know where I am." When I thought it, I became anxious, but also felt free. It was a strange feeling.

June 6, I could not see "the transit of Venus" phenomenon due to weather conditions. But I may have another chance. I will keep the solar eclipse diagram in my desk for a while.

June 16, 2011