by Mark Kaletka
Galaxies, the cosmos, astrophysics, observatories, telescopes: How do we possibly comprehend the reality that the universe is beyond measure, infinite, and endlessly mesmerizing?
We can’t; that’s why astronomy remains so completely fascinating. It’s the things in life we do not understand that most often draw our interest; that’s simply a natural human impulse — to be curious, to wonder and to want to be in awe of something far beyond and outside ourselves.
We know that stars, like everything else, live and die and that there are scientifically “correct” patterns in the remote sky that both perplex and bewitch us. If astronomy fascinates, it is because there exists in everyone a profound empathy with a world that is inaccessible in its complexity. Who among us has not felt, even fleetingly, spellbound by the immensity of this cosmos, this universe?
Modern observatories regularly function as educational centers, providing this feeling of entrancement by presenting the wonder of the cosmos directly to the audience, short-circuiting the intellect for an hour or so and uncovering the wonder at the magic of theuniverse; promoting a sensory, visceral feeling for the human condition and its place in the great book of the cosmos.
Astronomy, the science of stars, planets, galaxies, and black holes, is the oldest science, yet it is the most intriguing because the study of the universe will help answer the most important questions human beings can ask, such as:
How did the universe begin?
What is the structure of the universe?
How will the universe change in the future?
How do the planet Earth and its inhabitants fit into the larger universe of space and time?
Though we may never know the answers to these kinds of questions in our lifetime, we’re always thankful for those who will follow us, prepared, with a scientific brain, to one day provide answers — and maybe more — to humankind.
It’s difficult to understand our own galaxy, and we’re constantly “adding to it,” or discovering new frontiers and small, more distant planets than those we’re already familiar with. The sun, and the concept of the planets just in our galaxy alone, provoke wonder and all kinds of speculation. It’s food for our brain; it’s one of those applications of learning that so enthrall, it doesn’t seem like we’re “studying” anything. It’s an effortless exercise in the Unknown Sphere of the Universe.
What better way to pass the time, to postulate upon, to have an intellectually stimulating discussion, maybe with people you don’t even know yet?
And what about the theories of particle physics that have been developed in conjunction with the standard Big Bang model to explain the origin, evolution and
present structure of the universe?
What about the origins, evolution, interiors, and energy production of the stars themselves? How are they formed? Why? And we’ve all heard of “interacting galaxies,” but just what, exactly, does it mean? It all sounds like, well, a kind of heaven — a place we know exists, but that we cannot quite see or understand.
Then, there’s Newton’s laws, the concept of work and energy, momentum, gravitation, sound and light waves.
If you haven’t felt a slight thrill yet, it’s eitherbecause you already know about these atmospheric wonders, or you’ve been living under a local rock.
So get out there and Observe the Universe! It’s absolutely spellbinding!
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