An image of Orion’s Belt, yoinked from Wikipedia. The picture has a click through link to the wikipedia page for Orion. Sitting next to the left-most star of the belt you can also see the Flame Nebula.
This is a sort of self-indulgent post of rumination, rather than one with life changing details of current society. You have been warned. :)
I love stars and gazing at the sky at night. One of the things I least enjoy about living in the city is that there are so few stars to see; in fact alongside Ursa Minor the only constellation you can really make out is Orion (not that I know constellations well), yet it’s always Orion that I’ve most been drawn to.
When I look at the sky and see the stars, it begins to play with my head and boggle my mind. For example the Flame Nebula you can see in the picture is between 900 and 1,500 light years away. That is to say the distance it is from us, it takes at least 900 years for the light from the gaseous formations to reach us. To put things in perspective, it takes 8 minutes for light from the sun to get to us.
When you look at the stars, you’re looking into the past.
Everything you’re looking at when you look into the night sky has changed before you’ve even seen it. It’s not just changed slightly, it’s changed a lot. It’s moved on, it’s done something else. You are never going to know what, because you’ll be long dead before you even get near to where it was when you looked vaguely in it’s direction.
The night sky has no purpose attached to it, it doesn’t exist for our indulgence. Indeed it has no knowledge of our existence. Our daily trials and tribulations, our struggles and successes, our arbitrary gains and losses that to our own lives have so much meaning have absolutely no consequence on the great behemoth that is the universe.
Our own sun isn’t the biggest star, it’s not the smallest star. It’s not the youngest nor the oldest, not the brightest nor the coldest. It is, as stars go, really quite mediocre.
Our own planet earth isn’t the biggest planet. It’s not the smallest planet, nor the hottest nor the coldest. It simply is a planet. We associate it as “our planet” but it’s not really. It was here before us and it’ll be here after us, in whatever state we leave it.
The sun, the planets, the stars, the galaxies, the universe: these things have no rhyme nor reason behind their existence. They were not placed here for us, we came from them and return to them. They won’t blink to have known us nor care for our passage. It’s estimated that in our galaxy alone there are some 200 billion stars; imagine how many of those stars have their own planets, each of varying sizes and make up. Our experiences of them will probably never be anything more than through a telescope, and they’ll never experience us.
There is no right and wrong in any of this. The stars have no ethics, they don’t know pain or suffering. They exist. They are. That’s what they do. They don’t do it because that’s their purpose, they do it just because they do. They don’t comprehend the beauty they represent, they have no vanity in their passage through space.
They are bigger than us, they are stronger than us. They are much, much older than us. They will be here after we have gone. They will simply carry on.
I like looking at the stars. It’s good to know how inconsequential I am.