Unusual ‘Astronomical’ Observations

None of these are what are normally referred to as astronomical observations, but in my defence, I am claiming that they were all ‘astronomical’ and that they were all ‘observations’.

  1. Many decades ago, well after dark, I once saw a luner rainbow directly opposite a full moon. Since there was insufficient light in the rainbow to trigger the cones in my eyes, only the rods, it was inevitably colourless. It was the only time I have seen this phenomenon, and I have yet to find anyone else who has. It must be a rarity.
  2. Several decades ago, in the middle of cloudless night, on a ferry boat travelling between islands in the Bahamas, and in very calm seas, I saw a narrow pencil of light reflected from the water, in a direct line between my eyes and a distant light. The light source was not on planet earth. The light source was in direct line with Orion’s Belt, and as far from Orion’s belt on the left as the Pleiades were on the right. Yes! It was Sirius. I slowly walked all round the boat looking for any other examples, but as expected, there were none. Sirius is not just the brightest star in the sky, it is the brightest by a very considerable amount.
  3. In the summer of (I think) 1961, I attended a week-long series of scientific lectures at Cambridge University along with a lot of other school leavers. I remember that they were all worthwhile, but after many decades, only one has stuck in my memory. It was a lecture on the origins of the universe, given jointly by Sir Fred Hoyle FRS and Sir Martin Ryle FRS. If you know much about astronomy you will know that their views on the Big Bang theory were poles apart, which made the atmosphere delightfully electric ... which might be why I remember it so well.


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