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The night sky

May 15, 2008

We in Delaware won’t see it tonight unless these clouds move away, but there are some amazing things in the night sky

Just past the first quarter, the moon casts silver light on the Earth. We were there. Humans threw people out of the atmosphere and we walked on an alien world. People stepped out of a metal ship, watched as dust flew from their footprints in a perfect parabola and settled onto the ground. We planted the Stars and Stripes, and gathering rocks for scientific inquiry, jetted those brave men back home. There are men alive today who walked on another world!

Brilliant orange, Mars creeps it’s way farther and farther from Pollux and Castor on the 2D map of the sky. If you look at that rusty dot, you are seeing robots that men and women hurled across thousands of miles to orbit or land, and send us amazing photos of that alien terrain. Soon, yet another robot will land on the ice caps and send us data about water on Mars!

Look far to the left and you will see Saturn, honey-gold and hanging in Leo, fighting the lion for brilliance and beauty! We sent another robot over one million kilometers away to orbit this ringed giant! This satellite, Cassini, landed a probe on one of the moons of Saturn, a completely different plantary system! We have video of the Huygens probe landing on the Saturnian moon of Titan, a world of thick yellow atmosphere and oceans of ammonia! If you look at that tiny golden dot in the sky, you can know that there is a human artifact out there, gathering data about other planets.

Beyond Saturn, completely out of view, our species, cousin to orangutans and bonobos, have two probes that have sailed out of the solar system and continue to send back data. Voyager has turned its eye back to the Earth from a billion miles away and has shown us who we are, invisible specks on a pale blue dot. Specks that have vicariously traveled the solar system and have seen things that no other species alive today will. A species that will one day, within the lifetime of this writer and you the reader, walk on an alien planet, our boots red with the iron rust of a foreign world.

What other race has had the blatant arrogance to fling a metal pod to another world and succeed? What other race has mined photographs of a world we will never touch? What other species has their handiwork sailing outside of our world, our orbit, our planetary system, our solar system?

You ask me how I can have wonder without a god, then I question your imagination, your sapience. Close your eyes and see the amazing things that humanity has done. See the silver speck, humanity-flung, and moving on other worlds.

That is wonder, my friends.


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