January 08, 2009
International Year Of Astronomy.
2009 has been selected as the international year of Astronomy. Partly due to the fact that it is 400 years ago (1609) since Galileo gazed at the night skies through the first, primitive telescope, making significant observations.
To the scientist in me this is an intriguing prospect, appreciating the fact that a man in my distant past was driven by the knowledge for the unknown. I like the thought of the existence of such men or women, who dedicate their lives to be different, in order to move the frontiers of science, even if it is ever so slightly.
The skies, the stars and the cosmos have always intrigued me. The mystery of our past and our place in the universe is ultimately an enigma. The never-ending questions of whether we are alone or not. Where do we come from and why are we here?
Sometimes I like to look at the big picture. I have heard that many astronauts change their view of the Earth and their own lives on it, once they have been in space. Seeing it from such a distance, they claim to undergo an almost spiritual experience. They see this small, beautifully coloured object in the jet black sky, realizing suddenly their own – and all ours - insignificance, forgetting all about the drawn borders, conflicts and differences. They see Earth, the whole planet, as their home.
And we might be alone. Or at least separated from other intelligent life through such vast distances, we truly can just as well say we are alone. Not to mention that other intelligent life might look nothing like us. This notion should be significant enough for us to try to appreciate that, which connects us all, not focusing one what makes us different. I often think about this and other subjects, such as the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecrafts, which are hurdling through the space as we speak. They are the longest travelled, man-made object ever; carrying information about us, engraved in plaques and disks. One of them is just about to leave our solar system. Pioneer 10 is destined for the star Aldebaran, which it will reach in 2 million years.
I have received another gift from - you know who, right? It is filled with wonderful pictures of space and our planet, one picture for each day of the year. I will try to post the most alluring ones here, during the course of the this year, "the year of Astronomy".