Saturday, 24 November 2012

A Passion for Space

Some nights I dream of what it must have been like to walk on the Moon or what it will be like to walk on Mars for someone in a few decades time. Then there's the dream of seeing the sky with your own eyes in the way that the giant telescopes do... that "Rutger...time to die" moment from Bladerunner, imagining what it must be like to skim past the Orion Nebula or hover above the galaxy. Most of humanity look up at the sky, and never pay it any attention, it's always there, so, like a local building or corner shop, why would/should they care..? Some people look up and may wonder a bit, or stare at the Moon looking for meaning to a problem in their life,,,,

I think astronomy people and fans of space science are blessed, in that we look up, and see a million suns burning brightly, consuming their gaseous fuel at a relentless pace... with a plethora of planets orbiting probably each and every one of them, we see gas clouds, intricate in form, and colour making new stars, we see the explosive remnants of stars, weaving their spider like tendrils across the sky... that once may have harboured life bearing planets in their own solar systems, we see galaxies of every conceivable shape and size, huge black holes at their centres with arms that stretch out for distances we cannot begin to comprehend, we see our nearest satellite, shining brightly, never changing and yet constantly illuminated in subtly different ways... with the footprints of 12 great human beings imprinted on them for the next 10-20-30 million years, but most of all, I think we see and grasp the Universe in a way most don't... an infinite sea, as I think Sagan once called it, where we're just starting to dip our toes in to the cosmic shore.
Like most things we may take for granted, one day it may not be there, maybe light pollution, maybe illness or maybe some other factor will make it impossible for you as an individual to see it.. so next time you step outside, don't forget to look up, and if it's a clear night, just take a few moments to enjoy the greatest, most beautiful free light show this planet has to offer... and then realise why people who are passionate about astronomy and space are that way..

This post is dedicated to friends who are "the astronomy" people , and to my friend Giovanni Sostero, who I hope against hope will again see the universe he loves so much

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