In the stars and ourselves

Reason No. 4298b that I love New York:

Went to see Shakespeare in the Park tonight at the Delacorte; the theater for those who don't know, is in the middle of Central Park. Tickets are free, you just have to line up for a long time — or get invited to the gala, which is what happened to me.

Didn't care much for the performance; they actually made it kind of sarcastic/jokey in places, and the Hamlet was overwrought and kept reminding me of Joachim Phoenix (who I like but this was second rate), and Sam Waterston, I'm fairly sure, tripped up on his lines at one point.

No matter, after an hour and 45 minutes they recessed for intermission and my friend Kelly and I decided to take our leave. We headed off through the East Side of the park.

Now, I'm not one to stroll in Central Park after dark, although there were plenty of folks and their dogs who did. But it's safe enough that you can, should you want to; we didn't see anyone dodgy. Instead, here's what we did see: amateur astronomists with enormous, and enormously expensive, telescoping equipment taking in the night skies. The first guy invited us over to check out the luminous full moon, which didn't look a whole lot different than it did hanging up in the sky like, um, a pizza pie, or what have you.

But another guy had his set up to focus on something else entirely: Saturn. He called us over to check it out. And there it bloody well was! Looked like a little sticker he'd put on the telescope to fool people, just a tiny ringed yellow speck, but quite clearly what Saturn is supposed to look like. And you can look at every well-developed photo in the world of the planet, but there is truly something different about seeing it through a telescope. It's just another star in the night sky without it, so this was something you couldn't just do on your own without the right equipment.

We thanked them profusely and headed out to Fifth Avenue.



  1. LeendaDLL on 6/17/08 at 8:53 pm

    Soooo neat! I’m completely envious about viewing Saturn!

  2. Cameron G Rose on 6/18/08 at 3:16 pm

    the first time I came to Central Park, I saw people lining up their telescopes. For a minute I thought they were peeping into the penthouses along 5th Ave!  But for what it’s worth my favourite planet is Jupiter and I consider Pluto a planet I don’t care what ANYBODY says.