Liner Notes for the CD With Evening Above
The songs on “With Evening Above” were inspired directly by many nights stargazing. The title track, “With Evening Above”, was originally released on a limited edition cd in 2003, and has been re-recorded for this collection.
The stories behind my songs are usually not as interesting as most people think. On this recording, however, there are two songs with titles that were directly inspired by two of my favorite people in this world-my daughters.
When my youngest daughter, Fiona, was around five years old, I was playing some concerts pretty far away from home. When I was talking on the phone with her one evening before she went to bed, Fiona asked me “when you look out to the sky were you are, do you see the same stars as me?” That question knocked the “emotional wind” out of me, and (of course) I replied “yes, I do”. I knew that, one day, I would title a song “The Same Stars”; I was just waiting for the right song to come along.
The second song, “No Matter How Far”, comes from a conversation I had with my oldest daughter, Thalia, when she, too, was around five years old. Both of my daughters have received “the lecture” from me-we go out to the orchard at night, look up to the sky, I point out the North Star and say “do you see that star there? It is so far away, that the light we see from that star took 400 yeas to get there. Even when I was that far away from here, I would always think of you and your mom and your sister.”
(And for the sake of sounding like a good father, I’ve conveniently edited out the middle part of that conversation, where my then five-year-old daughter Thalia said “wow-the light is 400 years old. That’s pretty old-that’s even older than grandma!”, to which I replied “yes, it is, because grandma is only 350 years old”. I thought “no matter how far” would make a better song title than “grandma is 350 years old”)
Thanks to Robert Rich, Rainer and Naomi at Sienna Digital, Forrest Fang, Sam Rosenthal, Michael Sterns, Al Conti, the crew at Hearts of Space (for AMBIcon 2013), Star’s End, Laura Sullivan, Candice Lakmichi, and Diane Arkenstone.
Most of all, thanks to Anastasia, Thalia, and Fiona-the three brightest lights in my sky.
Various comments below:
A Traveller who sticks with his homeworld’s subsector usually does see the same stars as his family back home. But of course, as he travels farther and further, the constellations tend to shift.
Copypasting a post at Reddit:
It would be hard to find a comprehensive catalog of stars with their distances, since distance is not easy to calculate. The Yale Bright Star Catalog is a list of the 9110 brightest stars, down to an apparent magnitude 6.5. This is generally taken as the limiting magnitude visible to the naked eye. So this would consist of all the stars that are potentially visible to the unaided human eye under the best of conditions. Of course, normally we see only a small fraction of that, depending on eyesight and viewing conditions.
Unfortunately, the catalog does not list distances. The distances of many stars in the catalog is known, so potentially someone could look each up in turn and fill in the distance. That would be quite a time consuming task.
If you want to consider a smaller dataset, here is a list of the 300 brightest stars, which is basically all stars down to an apparent magnitude of 3.55. This is basically what you would see in an urban area, if you live in a city.
This list contains distances, and you can do the math on that:
- mean = 347 light years
- median = 185 light years
- mode = 220 light years
And the number of stars by distance:
- <10 light years = 2 stars (Sirius and Rigel)
- 10-100 light years = 79 stars
- 101-1000 light years = 200 stars
- >1000 light years = 19 stars
As I said, these numbers will vary depending upon how many stars you can see, which depends on your eyesight, light pollution, atmospheric conditions, how much of the horizon is blocked, etc. But since these are the brightest 300 stars visible from earth, these numbers are representative of pretty much any star your eye is drawn to. Of course, you may be purposely looking for the dimmest star you can see, in which case your mileage may vary.
Potentially, with good eyesight and under excellent conditions, you could see V762 Cas in the constellation of Cassiopeia, which has an apparent magnitude of 5.8 and is the farthest known star visible to the naked eye, at 16,000 light years. Or if you include galaxies, you can see Andromeda, which is 2.5 million light years.
My physics is mundanely weak: but intuitively, I think that if the Traveller moves as five parsecs out (~15 light years) the constellations start to visibly differ from back home, and if you move ten parsecs out (~30 light years), the constellations of the homeworld are largely gone: most of the stars that he sees in the sky are not the same stars his family sees on the homeworld.
Polaris, the North Star, is about 133 parsecs out from Terra. So, at jump 4, (one-week jumpspace, one-week realspace cycle), it will take about 67 weeks to get there. I can’t find it at www.travellermap.com, so I assume that Polaris is outside of Charted Space.
I can see a Solomani expedition being sent out, just to see what’s orbiting that old friend.
“In the old days back when ships sailed the sea, they were guided by the North Star to their destination. Now, with Terra as our reference point, we will journey to the North Star!”
(Side note: the Imperium uses the system of Reference/Core for astrographic purposes. The Solomani naturally prefer to use Terra instead. Rather amusing, as Terra isn’t even with Solomani borders…)
The pureblooded Vilani die off in the early-mid 200s, so it’s unlikely to have a grandma that’s really 350 years old. But with
- anagathics and/or
- low berths and/or
- some serious genetic engineering and/or
- a temporal misjump,
it is certainly possible to have a living grandma who has hit that age.
A very interesting granny to talk to, for curious minds of all ages. Especially if she did some travelling in her more sprightly days!
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