I wish there was an exposure setting long enough on my camera to capture the stars here the way they’ve been for the past few nights. There’s been no moon, or only a small sliver of one, which makes the long arm of the Milky Way clearly visible. All of this makes me wish I could remember even the slightest detail of Ms. Johnson’s 5th grade astronomy class, but my knowledge extends only to the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt in the winter months. Having come here most recently from New York (where you’re lucky to catch a glimpse of the moon if it can compete with the amber glow of buildings, streetlights, and cars) they just seem all the more spectacular.
Last weekend, some of the trainees carried a blanket up one of the hills on the edge of town to lie out and look at the light show for a while. I saw shooting stars that I was sure were going to land just over the opposite mountain—they all seemed so close. I was a little late coming back home and had to jump the fence to my hashaa (yard), which made my guard dog a little unhappy, but I’m the only one in the family who’s nice to him and he’s not about to bite the hand that feeds him; we have an understanding of sorts.
Replying to Ms. K. Ochsenschlager’s question about the fate of the pool table in the rain:
When the evening thunderstorm rolled into town on Friday, I ran out to see what happens to the pool table in inclement weather. It looks they cover it up with a tarp, or they did this time at least. The table felt and wood are pretty worn so my best guess is that this doesn’t always happen. As for the winter, I’m going to have to wait until October to learn the answer to that one. These Mongolians are mighty tough though, I wouldn’t put it past them to play in below-zero weather.