July 1, 2013
Stars have fascinated mankind for a very long time. Most humans do not worship them but observing them is no less than a religious experience. By merely facing upwards at night, we can contemplate on our minuteness. We are introduced to the vastness of the universe.
Stargazing is for the romantics. Movies have long portrayed lovers, lying on the beach at night, eyeballing and counting the stars. ‘My love for you will remain till these stars shine’ and countless other phrases invoke stars for the most pure human emotion: love. How accurate portrayal of human emotion the stars convey!
Stargazing is for those who are interested in planetary science. I go to the rooftop at night and count the numbers of stars in the Pleiades cluster. I check and make sure they are 7 because the Seven Sisters are faintly visible. Stargazing is more than a hobby to me. It enables me to use my superpower: education. Knowledge makes us aware of different stars' prodigious existence. Like dinosaurs, heavenly objects also come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Mars is red, Sirius is not. Trying to make a dog-like figure with Sirius as the sole reference point is a little irritating at first. But once you complete the image, you will always come to pet your dog with your fingers rising and gesturing, completing its image in the night sky. This divine dog is made of stars. Do not worry about his age. He will always be there for you. The stars you gaze are everyone’s stars. We belong to the stars as we are made of star stuff.
Stargazing is for dreamers. My 5 year old cousin became invigorated with passion as I pointed out different stars and planets to him. I pointed to the moon and told the heroic tales of Apollo 13 and the successful mission of Apollo 11 which landed Man on the moon. He was shocked to learn this and pondered in silence. My cousin wants to find out more about these twinkling stars. I tell him about their finite existence. Even these twinkling stars will die one day.
Stargazing is for all of us. Like Calvin aptly said “If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I'll bet they'd live a lot differently.” These starry heavens shine at night for us. Only we have the capacity to contemplate on our origins. A star died somewhere in the universe so that we could be born. Gaze at the stars. Think about your origins. Appreciate your greatness!
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.