Monday, April 24th, 2017

Star-gazing

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Spiral galaxy

Images like this one make me wonder how long I can stare at such views without losing what passes for my mind. (You can click on the image to expand it.) Why is it that such views of the cosmos have such a fascination? Let me count the ways.

As a town boy, I know little about how the heavens appear on a clear night. Too many lights glaring. Even when I stood at the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, 13,600 feet above the surrounding ocean, I still could not see anything like the image above, which was taken from space with a telescope producing a field of view spanning only 2 degrees, or about 4 times the width of the full moon. So I have a pretty rational excuse for being amazed. The large galaxy seen edge on they say is 13 million light-years distant. That sounds like a long way. The smaller galaxy is 35 million light-years away, which must be an even longer distance away.

My counterpart in ancient days stood on a hill and gazed at the sky, probably thinking the same thoughts that I do with my “better” view. Somehow that is a comforting thought.

Can anyone see the heavens, in whatever detail, without wondering how it all came to be? This is a metaphysical matter for the astronomers, astrophysicists, and theologians. I can stay with them to the point of positing a creator God, but after that it’s in their ballpark. Let them run the risk of going bonkers, I say.

I make no apologies for continuing to be fascinated with the cosmos. I’m really not too worried about losing my mind.

Dave, which perhaps he should be.

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