The Real Universe

Posted: October 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

I don’t really remember when I started to get into astronomy, but I know that Hawaii made it easy to be passionate about it. Pulling into our driveway on a clear night, we’d sometimes just stand there until the motion-sensing light on the garage went out and stand around looking up in silence. Looking at a sky so packed full of stars it seemed that there were more points of light than spaces between them, and the milky way stood out so bright it actually lit up the landscape on moonless nights. And when you looked away to another spot, tricks of the rods in your eye showed that there were in fact even more, much fainter stars hiding in the luminous wake of their neighbors.

I had this exact same telescope as a teenager, only in black rather than the “safety orange” that Nimoy is so delicately showcasing, which I bought used off of someone in the next town over. I vividly remember taking it into my back yard under the dazzlingly clear Hawaiian night sky and seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time. Not a photo, not in a documentary, but right there, in person, separated from me only by a few ground glass lenses and mirrors and several hundred million miles. Standing in the dark on an island in the middle of the Pacific, on yet another island in a much larger ocean, I was able to catch a glimpse of a distant shore, if only to know that it was really and truly out there.


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