Here are the coordinates: five hours, thirty minutes right ascension (the coordinate on the celestial sphere analogous to longitude on earth) and zero declination (at the celestial equator). Any astronomer can tell where you are.
It’s different isn’t it from head back in the garden on a frosty night sensing other worlds through a pair of binoculars? I like those nights. Kitchen light out and wearing wellingtons with shiny silver insoles. On the wrapper there’s an astronaut showing off his shiny silver suit. A short trip to the moon has brought some comfort back to earth. We can wear what Neil Armstrong wore and never feel the cold. This must be good news for stargazers whose feet are firmly on the ground. We have moved with the times. And so will Orion.
Every 200,000 years or so, the individual stars within each constellation shift position. That is, they are shifting all the time, but more subtly than any tracker dog of ours can follow. One day, if the earth has not voluntarily opted out of the solar system, we will wake up to a new heaven whose dome will again confound us. It will still be home but not a place to take for granted. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the story of Orion and say, ‘Look, there he is, and there’s his dog Sirius whose loyalty has left him bright.’ The dot-to-dot logbook of who we were is not a fixed text. For Orion, who was the result of three of the gods in a good mood pissing on an oxhide, the only tense he recognized was the future continuous. He was a mighty hunter. His arrow was always in flight, his prey endlessly just ahead of him. The carcasses he left behind became part of his past faster than they could decay. When he went to Crete he didn’t do any sunbathing. He rid the island of all its wild beasts. He could really swing a cudgel.
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