February 7, 2006
Starry Starry Night
Yet another of my dreams was to travel into outer space. If being an astronomer were out of the question, my dying wish would be to convince NASA to pop me into a capsule and throw me out into space just before I passed away. That way, even if the air pressure from within the tube caused it to implode into the vacuum, I would have seen at least once in my lifetime that great blackness, that great light, that great Space.
The alternative, of course, is to use a telescope.
I’m not sure about experienced astronomers, but an amateur like myself appreciates almost exclusively the character of stars, instead of close examination of planets’ dents and the moon’s many craters.
I have always needed a map to get around on ground. In the same way, the sky terrain is as vast and needs a map to guide one by. When I look into space, I don’t merely see beautiful twinkling patterns in the sky but an alternative geographical map. Specific constellations set in place offer a much more international and global map. One can travel anywhere on our puny Earth and still be very much aware of where one is in reference to the nightsky. The locations of Nebulae, constellations, clusters, stars circling the other, dot the sky ceiling. Not random spotting of burning gasses, but so accurate that it can teach you direction.
Stars are as practically alive as humans! They are the single astronomical being that takes on a life cycle. From a star’s inception to its last gasp of breath it goes through stages that are scarily similar to that of a human. Beginning from the squashing of interstellar gas and dust (formation in the womb), then the cool dark clouds forming around it (continued growth as a foetus), then shine its newfound energy into space (infancy into adulthood), then begins the process of dying through either a red giant or supergiant (middle age), and finally dying into a white dwarf or a black hole (old age and death).
And so depending on the age of a star, you can identify with each as they travel through different stages.I personally am drawn to the black hole that sucks everything within its reach, including light waves. Am I intrigued by death?
So, I know this: Stars are celestial beings almost a life-form (subject to debate), and placed in funny formations together can allow one to find his way around, even if one can get lost (as I very much do) whilst on earth. Meanwhile, we are all mostly in the main sequence or fusion ignition stage of a star’s life cycle! Let’s shine on with our Sun in main sequence!