Friday, July 8, 2011

Star Struck

The other day, our family decided to visit the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.  We felt our son was old enough to appreciate the experience (somehow) and wanted to reinforce his budding interest in astronomy. 

To this day, I can honestly say that my planetarium field trip when I was in elementary school in the Philippines (3rd grade, I believe, though I’m no longer so sure) remains as one of the most memorable.  I have always been fascinated with astronomy, the skies, outer space, and even the idea of extraterrestrial life.  I remember when I was a child, my parents invested in an encyclopedia set and what I enjoyed most was the volume about planets!  I would flip through the pages and just stare at the pictures, intrigued and seduced by their beauty, making me want to magically shrink and enter the book and physically land on these heavenly bodies.  There was no internet then and all I had were pictures on paper and my imagination.  Now, as an adult, I try to watch every single episode on astronomy featured on the Science Channel and just enjoy the feeling of awe and wonder as I listen to narrations and explanations by astrophysicists.  Heaven indeed!


Man’s interest in astronomy has been existent for hundreds of years, and though the extent of my love affair with it is insignificant compared to that experienced by the great scientists, again the real question is why.  Why do we keep looking up to the sky?  Is it the sense of wonder that fills us?  Is it the sense of excitement, and of possibilities, that fuel our questions?  And what exactly do we hope to find and learn?  And given what we may find, are we truly prepared?  How much can we take and comprehend?  How far are we willing to search, ask, discover and learn? 




The world out there is infinite and I think what exhilarates me is the sensation that looking up, looking out, is also quite like looking in, where the depth and breadth are both infinite and magnificent.  It leaves me breathless just knowing that what is out there is beyond even my imagination.  Some people would say that our desire to discover and learn more about the stars and the universe(s) is all about our future, a leaping forward.  I say it has more to do with our past.  This fascination, this sense of wonder and irresistible temptation to look up to the heavens is really a search for our origins, a natural curiosity for the nature of our lives.  It is all part of that seed planted in all of us, that seed that always asks ‘Who am I?’


Astronomers have always said that we are all stardust.  We are made of the same elements as the stars in space, and in effect are part of the processes that have occurred and continue to occur for billions of years now.  This thought, to me, is both elating and humbling.  We are both important and insignificant in the grand scheme of things and choosing a perspective to apply given the various circumstances we face truly spell out the kind of person you are.  Sometimes you need to realize your greatness, while sometimes you need to step back and know that you are but a 'pale blue dot', as the late Carl Sagan once said.  Hopefully we choose appropriately and that our lives do justice to the greatness of the burning stars.   








20 comments:

  1. Sounds like an amazing trip! Happy weekend

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  2. I really like this post - as I do astronomy, and I have been to the Adler a couple of times. It's been a while though, so thanks for taking me back.

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  3. Ok, all starry posts for this Friday in the PBAU club!
    The trip sounds amazing, I have never been to an Planetarium...I just realized this! :(

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  4. Lots of space junkies in PBAU this week. Where is it coming from?

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  5. I remember a visit to the planetarium having a big impact on me at a young age too. Still, the vastness of our universe, and space, is hard to comprehend, isn't it? Josie x

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  6. craft for kids - piggy gigglesJuly 8, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    Looks amazing!
    I'm a new follower and I'm visiting you from the Alexa Blog Hop, stop by when you get a chance :)
    Brenda
    http://www.piggygiggles.com

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  7. What a beautiful post Joy. Ive always been fascinated by astronomy but not to the extent that you have, in fact I know very little about it. I have slept under the stars in the australian outback and had constellations pointed out to me..it is a vast and magnificent universe, that of the stars and the planets

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  8. It must be the nearing 2012 galactic alignment, hehehehehe......

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  9. Oh you gotta find one and go, Hajra! You won't regret it :-)

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  10. Beautiful post. I remember going to the planetarium as a child and just being in awe. I think I still am in awe of it all and that is as it should be. Following you from the Alexa Hop and hoping you can return the love. You can find me at Yankee Texan Mom or Mama's Money Tree

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  11. Hi Joy -

    I have to agree with you here. I believe our human quest and fascination with the heavens is a search for our origin. Where did we come from and how did we get here? I too am intrigued by the sky, the galaxy, and the infinite number of galixies and unknowns. Excellent post. :)

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  12. Thanks! So do you and the boys frequent the Adler too?...although that could get pretty expensive...hmmm....

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  13. Hi Joy, Love your blog, great site.
    Bushra Syed from vb
    www.allaboutbabyzee.blogspot.com
    www.syedstore.blogspot.com

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  14. I remember when I was in grade school, a company would bring a planetarium right into the school library once a year. It was always my favorite day. To this day I have books upon books about the celestial heavens. It is just overwhelming to try to wrap our minds around all that may be out there. My favorite thing to do on the clearest of nights is to pull out my binoculars and locate the Andromeda Galaxy (the only galaxy we can view with our naked eye). It makes me wonder what else is out there. Great post!

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  15. Visiting from VoiceBoks. I am always awestruck by the vastness of space. It reminds me how big God is yet He still cares about the little details of our lives - amazing!

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  16. At first I was expecting a post about Brad Pitt or Barbara Streisand ("star" struck) but this was even BETTER. It is such an intriguing thought of life outside our planet...I secretly wish E.T. was real =)

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  17. I took Astronomy in college and it was one of the few science classes I ever enjoyed and actually passed (with an A!) I grew up on the Space Coast of Florida, my Dad, Uncles, and Grandfather all worked with the space program, we all went to Cape Kennedy on field trips and my parents took me to "Star Parties" where people brought out powerful telescopes to fields way out of town. You can see the stars better without all the light from cities and towns lighting up the sky. I love that where we live the sky is so dark you can see the stars perfectly clearly almost every night.

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  18. I love star gazing but I have never been that interested in Astronomy. However, the question you pose, Who am I? as related to the unknown, infinite Universe, made me stop and backtrack. That sense of wonder that has filled men since prehistoric times, making us feel, as you said, both important and insignificant, is spot on. It's not surprising that earlier civilizations worshipped the sun, moon, and the stars, and in a way, we still do. Just think how reverent we feel when we behold the night sky and all that is beyond it.

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  19. Yeah, it's sad how all our artificial lights drown out the beauty of our skies. You are SOOO lucky to have such a view every night!

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  20. Amen to that Penelope!

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Let me know your thoughts!