I’ve lived in Gothenburg for almost as many years as I’ve wanted to visit the star observatory in the park, and not until yesterday did I actually go. Bus 60 took me and Sara to the top of the hill, and after a while Olle and Helga joined us at the small building which houses four telescopes and dioramas left over from other, probably upgraded, museums.
At the observatory, a gawky guide shuffled us around telescopes swaying in the wind, requiring constant adjustment to remain fixed on the Pleiades or twinkly Sirius. The stars look nothing like in the movies, and even less like the colour-composite images NASA releases. Turns out that when you’re looking closely at bright dots, what you see is slightly larger bright dots, and even more dots around those. It’s dots all the way, so to say, which was the sentiment of one vocal woman, who exclaimed “you have got to be bloody shitting me, I can see as much in my binoculars at home!” It was a tense moment, and with the exception for a brat who just wouldn’t shut the hell up — his parents resigned to his annoying existence — twenty or so people held their breath, expecting the woman to lay into the poor, bumbling, guide. She was somewhat placated by seeing the Andromeda galaxy.
At the end of it all, we got to see some constellations and their constituent stars, and even got to see a blurry Saturn with a blurry ring. According to the other guide — the jovial one with the nose ring — this popping of ones Saturn cherry is a big moment in any stargazers career, and we did our best to feel properly awed. It was very nice to see it for real, and next time I’ll be in a city with a bigger telescope I’ll do my best to sneak a peek at the other planets. Not buying my own telescope yet though.