Part of what I like is the unbelievable vastness of space. The late Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhikers trilogy, described it best when he said:
"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."
It's humbling to think of how insignificant we are in our small portion of an arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Thinking of infinity is 'mind-boggling'. If you think of the farthest imaginable distance, there is still an infinite distance past that. Isn't that a cool thought?
What I like most though is the images of space. I have a six inch telescope that I am only learning to use but I can still get great shots of the moon, Jupiter with usually 3 or 4 of it's moons, Saturn with it's rings, among other things. I particularly like Jupiter. We look at it and the simple wonder is that this is another planet, and we can see it.
We have an observatory within driving distance of our house and the amateur astronomy club there is great. They have public viewing nights occasionally in which members bring out telescopes and set them up and let visitors use them. They also set up their large observatory telescope and let visitors view selected objects with this. I took my kids out there and they had a good time. We saw several nebulae and Jupiter far better than I can get with my scope. The people of the club are great and patient with answering questions from the kids.
We would see an image of a star cluster that appeared to be no bigger than about 3 or 4 inches across and we would find out this had a million stars in it. The cluster was 10 light years wide. This means the light from a star on one edge would take ten years to get to the opposite edge.
One of the nebulae we saw was 1200 light years from Earth. The kids were fascinated by this. This means that what we were looking at happened 1200 years ago. That was a cool thought. To put this into context, 1200 years ago the Mayan civilization was declining, the Holy Roman Empire was getting it's start, and Charlemagne is Emperor.
The point of this other than to take a break from politics and share a passion is, we need to step back sometimes and realize that what is happening in the world right now is only temporary. The election of Obama sucks. He's going to ruin the country. We still have people that want to do us harm just for the sake of unreasonable hatred. The economy is in the crapper.
I care about all of this, I think my blogs bear out the fact that I am quite passionate about it. Sometimes though, we have to step away from it all and recognize that there is something bigger than all of this. Just setting outside at night and staring at the sky can humble you. It does me.
I leave you with some incredible images from the Hubble Space Telescope courtesy of Fox News
Spiral galaxy M81 as seen from NASA Hubble Space Telescope in 2007.