Pale Blue Dot
I can’t remember the last time I looked up at the night sky and counted stars.
When I was a kid, I would do it all the time. I wasn’t very good at finding the Big Dipper, but I could mostly find Venus. It was fun to read an old Star Trek children’s book that featured the star Fomalhaut and know it was really up there somewhere.
Nowadays, I take the dog out for his evening constitutional and look up. Of course, I now have the awesome Star Chart app on my phone and I can quickly find the names of the stars, planets and other assorted objects in the night sky. I’m not counting them, but I am having a bit of fun holding my phone up to sky looking like I’m trying to get the perfect shot of the galaxy filled with stars.
Observing the night sky makes me feel insignificant, like the old Calvin and Hobbes strip. It makes me think about outer space and how small we really are. How fragile we are.
I think of Carl Sagan at the Pale Blue Dot quote:
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Looking up at the sky I want to go back to a simpler time when everything wasn’t so crazy and partisan and angry. I remember the joy of laying on the grass, staring at the stars and thinking how lucky I was to be living at this right exact moment. I thought how vast the universe was and wondered if I could play even a small, but significant part.
Periodically, I have to turn off the TV news or social media and cleanse my eyeballs of the “this is fine” time we’re living in. I spend more time walking my yard at night then I can remember in recent memory. I think it’s time to look at the stars, find Mars, find Fomalhaut, and maybe find some inner peace.
Soon, I’ll play my small, but significant part. Will you?