Zen and the Art of Astronomy

I’ve experienced Zen Astronomy before. I know that it is possible to manage all of the equipment that goes into viewing the Universe and still maintain a Zen state of mind. I know what it feels like when the observer, the observed, and the observing tools all work together. I just want more of it.

I’ve tripped over my last cord. I’ve tripped over my last tripod leg. I’ve thrown my last fit because I couldn’t find my eye glasses in the dark. I’ve spilled my last cup of coffee on my sky charts and notebook. I’ve dropped and stepped on my last eyepiece. I’ve knocked my telescope out of alignment for the last time. I’ve knocked my body out of alignment while looking through my telescope for the last time. I’ve said my last cuss word for a multitude of reasons:because the velcro that is supposed to stick my flashlight to the tripod leg is now sticking my flashlight to my glove; because my pen has rolled off the table; because my neighbor just turned on his outside light; because for the zillionth time I’ve entered an SAO for a double star that I’m just DYING to see, and it isn’t in the autostar database.

After this diatribe, one might wonder why I bother at all to look at the stars. The answer is mostly unspeakable, but has to do with beauty, mystery, and an almost insane curiosity.

So how does one do Zen Astronomy? Just keep it slow and simple. One quantum arc-second leap at a time.