A picture that changed my view of the universe
January 29, 2014
It must have been spring in the southern hemisphere in 1956. I remember being pleased that the cold weather was ended for the time being, and to see the leaves growing on the deciduous trees in the church yard. I went to the library for the first time that I recall and browsed through the books. My grandparents had a lot of books, mostly about Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, the Boer War and the First World War, plus a history of King Alfred the Great that I had read and re-read, getting many of the words wrong with my Infant's School reading ability. So I looked for other sorts of books in the library, and found one on astronomy with a large, coloured, artist's picture of the Andromeda Galaxy in it. The text under the picture told the reader that Andromeda was the twin of our galaxy and contained billions of stars. My view of the universe as being somehow just a little larger than the mountain valley I lived in was changed forever. There were galaxies out there and I wanted to know about them. That picture of Andromeda changed my way of thinking from then on.
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.