As folks might recall, July 7th is the Japanese festival of Tanabata, and my daughter and I were home that night. My wife was out with her friends. Anyhow, my daughter is 5 and she’s learning about Tanabata in her Japanese preschool, so while she was taking a bath, we thought it would be cool to find the two stars associated with Tanabata: the princess Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair).
Trouble is: the sun sets really late at this time of year because Seattle is pretty far north,1 so even at 9pm, it was still too bright to see stars. My daughter and I took our camping chairs and set them up in front of our house and waited:
My daughter usually sleeps by 8am, so she was pretty sleepy, and as you know, when kids are sleepy, they get very silly. So, in her pink Mulan pajamas, she was dancing and playing and trying to catch the light from my flashlight. We did this for about 45 minutes and she got tired and bored and I almost gave up as it was 9:45 now.
But just then we saw the first star in the sky: Vega. Because Vega is such a bright and famous star anyway, it was very easy to recognize. We were very excited and sat back down and waited to see the other star: Altair.
Another 10 minutes passed and we found it. She was very excited to see both Orihime and Hikoboshi, and I was really happy to share this moment with my daughter.
Of course, she was super-tired now, so I had to carry her on my shoulder (she was half-asleep by then) upstairs to bed. But she was so happy, she told Mommy the next morning about it as soon as she woke up.
It was a night to remember.
P.S. The other post I had scheduled for Monday was mis-scheduled and didn’t publish as intended. Sorry for day delay.
1 Seattle’s latitude is 47°, while Tokyo’s is 35°. Seattle is even further north than the city of Sapporo (45) which is up in Hokkaido. This makes the summers longer, and the winters shorter of course, though not as much as Alaska. I remember Ireland having very short winters (53° sunset around 3pm), by the way, while summers were pretty long.