The Scorpion

My astrological sign is Scorpius. I never really think about it, because I don't believe in astrology. In fact, when people ask me what my sign is I usually tell them, "Caution; rough road ahead".

But the constellation Scorpio is one of the few that actually looks like it's name. It's a beautiful constellation in the heart of the Milky Way. The long curved string of bright stars that curls into the scorpions stinger is unmistakable. From my home in Michigan it's not a very impressive sight. Scorpio barely clears the tops of the trees and the curved tail is usually lost in the haze near the horizon. But from St. John in the Virgin Islands it is awesome. I was strangely proud to be a 'Scorpio' as I pointed it out to my family and friends.

Things look very different from 18 degrees north than they do at +45! Scorpio and Sagittarius ride high in the south, Bootes was straight over head and Polaris is noticeably lower in the north. We stood out on the veranda last night and I gave an astronomy 101 class, explaining the phases of the moon, the ecliptic as the plane of the solar system, and as the Milky Way rose up we talked about the galaxy, dust and gas and the Great Rift, star formation and evolution and the vast distances to even the nearest stars.

There is even a good old fashioned Greek legend about Scorpio killing the great Orion to keep people awake. According to legend, that is why they are segregated to opposite ends of the sky, so it can never happen again.

I stayed up for about an hour after everyone finally called it a night, enjoying the beauty and serenity of it all, and waxing philosophically. My son gets married on the beach at Trunk Bay today, and I was wondering how long it will be before I am standing in the dark, holding the tiny hand of the next generation of Simonsens, describing the wonders of the Universe and telling stories of Greek heroes and scorpions killing great hunters.

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