Jimmy Westlake's Celestial News column appears monthly in the Steamboat Today.
Find more columns by Westlake here.
Steamboat Springs Hello, sports fans! Did you know that there’s a baseball game tonight up in the stars? It’s true. The first pitch is at 9 p.m., just as darkness falls. You can catch all of the action by facing the eastern sky and looking for the star pattern called the Great Square of Pegasus, which tonight will be transformed from a square into a diamond — a baseball diamond.
It’s the Milky Way Red Giants vs. the Andromeda White Dwarfs at Pegasus Park in the last game of the Universal Series. The series is tied at three games each. Tonight’s game will determine the baseball champions of the universe.
The ballpark is full of baseball fans, forming the hazy band of the Milky Way arching high overhead. Just listen to that crowd roar! I’ve just learned that we have a superstar celebrity in the crowd tonight. It’s the king of the planets, Jupiter, sitting out in the left field seats.
Tonight, home plate is marked by the bright star Scheat (She’-at), the top star in the diamond. Careful how you say that, baseball fans! Down to the lower left of home plate is first base, covered tonight by that great baseball all-star Alpheratz (Al-fee’-ratz). On second base is the four-time Golden Glove winner Algenib (Al-gee’-nib), and moving on to third base, it’s Markab, a shoe-in for rookie of the year.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the score still is tied at zero. Sadal Bari, the league’s home run king, is up to bat for the Red Giants and has run the count full. It’s up to him to keep the game from going into extra innings. Sadal Bari has just fouled off four straight pitches and the big game suddenly has come to a standstill. The White Dwarfs’ catcher, Tau Pegasi, has joined his brother and ace pitcher Upsilon Pegasi for a conference on the mound in the middle of the diamond. Could this be the end of the night for Upsilon? Not likely since he has a perfect game on the line! If he can retire Sadal Bari, Upsilon will have his second no-hitter of the series. Meanwhile, the batter, Sadal Bari, has walked down the third base line and is talking the situation over with his third base coach, Lambda. No doubt Lambda will have some good advice for Sadal Bari. Will he give him the green light again?
Uh-oh. The umpire behind the plate, Matar, is getting very impatient with this delay of the game and is about to make his way out to the mound to break up the conference. Play is about to resume in Pegasus Park, and everyone is standing and cheering. Will Sadal Bari knock it out of the park? Will Upsilon pitch his second perfect game of the series?
Oops! We’re all out of time, so you’ll have to catch the end of this game for yourself, tonight, under the stars.
Professor Jimmy Westlake teaches astronomy and physics at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus. He is an avid astronomer whose photographs and articles have been published all across the world. His “Celestial News” column appears weekly in the Steamboat Today newspaper and his “Cosmic Moment” radio spots can be heard on local radio station KFMU. Check out Jimmy’s astrophotography website at www.jwestlake.com.