The Stars

Last night we had a late supper, so the dog and I didn’t get out for our walk until dark. There was no moon and the sky was clear. On the way up the hill, I happened to look up and saw what I thought was the light of a high altitude jet. It wasn’t blinking though, and as I watched, I noticed it was quite bright, and was moving very fast. It must be a satellite, I thought. If so, I reasoned, I must be seeing the sun’s reflection. If that was true, the direction the satellite was moving should take it away from the sun’s influence shortly. As I watched, the object stayed bright, then dimmed, and went out completely. Welcome to the season of celestial mechanics.

During the summer months, I seldom seem to be outside late enough to enjoy the dance of the stars. As the nights lengthen, I’m often lucky enough to be outside in the dark to watch the show. I enjoy trying to adjust my perspective so I understand how the stars, planets, and moon are moving as I’m standing on a rotating platform. Sometimes I get a flash of insight, but mostly I’m just standing there in awe. Last night in particular I felt the feeling of insignificance I often do when confronted with the stars. I also wondered what I’m really looking at. I wondered how many dimensions are right in front of me, compared to the three my senses allow me to see.

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