Pleiades

The Pleiades

I took this picture from my living room window earlier. Because the night sky was very clear, one can easily see many constellations including Orion, Taurus, and Ursa Major. What caught my eye was a cluster of stars seen on the right side of the picture: the Pleiades.

The Pleiades

From Wikipedia:

The Pleiades also known as The Seven Sisters, Messier 45, and other names by different cultures, is an asterism and an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars in the north-west of the constellation Taurus. At a distance of about 444 light years, it is among the nearest star clusters to Earth. It is the nearest Messier object to Earth, and is the most obvious cluster to the naked eye in the night sky.

The name sounded familiar. I realised I had heard of the Pleiades being mentioned in a hadith by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

If the din were at the Pleiades, even then a person from Persia would have taken hold of it, or one amongst the Persian descent would have surely found it.

Sahih Muslim, The Book of the Merits of the Companions

Awesome, huh?

Oxford University Parks

Few things are better for the tired mind than strolling through nature, which was why I found myself, the day before Storm Eunice made landfall, walking through the University Parks. I’m not quite sure why it’s ‘Parks’ and not ‘Park’; seemed to me it was all part of the same park, but it is what it is.

I don’t know about you, but I’m the sort of person who likes reading the plaques on the benches, so naturally I was very excited when I found one dedicated to J. R. R. Tolkien (see below). Further down the path, there was another one dedicated to Marcus & Sue Dutton, two people who clearly loved the park as much as anyone did. The River Cherwell was swollen from all the rain we’ve been getting recently, but despite the light rain there were plenty of people wandering around the area. All in all, a beautiful park (or Parks!); definitely worth seeing especially since you can easily nip into the Museum of Natural History afterwards.

Cold Morning #2

Vincent van Gogh once said:

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.

The temperature was -2 degrees Celsius when I left my house to go jogging this morning, but who can resist going out when it’s looking like this?

I also saw wave after wave of birds passing above, flying southwest towards some unspecified destination.

Have a safe journey my feathered friends!

See also: Cold Morning (which I wrote in January this year)

Stars

While waiting for my kids to finish their karate lesson, I decided to play around with Night Mode on my iPhone. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a tripod with me, so I did the next best thing; I put my iPhone one a metal pole with a flat top, allowing me to adjust the Night Mode setting without having to hold the phone.

The picture I got was OK (I guess), but it looked better after some quick adjustments in the Photos app. What I would really like to do is get a picture of the Milky Way core, but I’ll have to do a bit more planning for that.

Nevertheless, seeing the stars above reminded me of the lyrics to this song by Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens):

How great the wonders of the heavens
And the timeless beauty of the night
How great – then how great the Creator?
And its stars like priceless jewels
Far beyond the reach of kings
Bow down for the shepherd guiding him home