Spacing Out...


On August 5th, after learning that the rover "Curiosity" had successfully landed on Mars, I was reminded of how my personal appreciation for our universe began and the inescapable realization that our planet Earth is but a speck of dust in the "big picture".

Circa 1996, during our nightly telephone conversation, my new boyfriend (the future 'Mr. Something') asked me to step outside and look into the sky. Done. A beautiful night sky, clear and full of stars. He directed me to a bright star near the moon. "That's Mars" he said, matter of fact-ly. 

It was a moment.

"I can see Mars?" "With my own eyes?"

And that was just the beginning.
Our neighborhood
(Depending on its orbit, this year, Mars was 56 million miles away from us - and we landed a vehicle on it.)
Our Galaxy. "The Milky Way"
 Earth, the Sun and our complete Solar System are gathered together in the same 'arm' (or disk).
 Our sun is 93 million miles away from us.

Just some of the galaxies that science is aware of out there.
During the past 15 years, Mr. Something and I have seen Jupiter and at least 6 of its moons, Saturn  and its rings, and a host of Messier objects with our backyard telescope. It was on a memorable trip to Fort Davis, Texas that my eyes were literally opened to the profound vastness of our Universe.
The Whirlpool Galaxy as seen through a McDonald Observatory Telescope...
 It's around 26 million "light years" away...
 One light year = 6 trillion miles. 
Just sayin'.

Makes one feel somewhat insignificant in the big scheme of things.

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