Thursday, May 14, 2009

Speaking of stars and planets,...

which I was doing in the previous post, jinksy is not the only one who could benefit from a remedial course in astronomy. So, as it turns out, could I. While I’ve been quietly growing older, all sorts of new things have been discovered, astronomy-wise, and it’s high time we talked about some of them.

Bet you thought our solar system consisted of the sun and nine planets with an asteroid belt thrown in to make things interesting.

As Tonto used to say to the Lone Ranger, “Wrong, kemosabe.”

There is a musical composition called “The Planets” by a man named Gustav Holst, but I won’t dwell on it. You could read about it here if you like, and even listen to five of its seven movements, and it would be time well-spent, but it has nothing to do with the actual solar system.

Let’s take a closer look at the actual solar system. If you click on the link in the previous sentence, you will find more than enough to keep you reading and thinking for a very long time, including galactic tide and the hypothetical Oort cloud (both of which sound like plots for new Star Trek movies) and Haumea and Makemake, which are not towns in Hawaii. And all of what you will find in just that one article is occurring in our own back yard, astronomically speaking. There’s a whole universe out there waiting to be explored.

And after you have read and absorbed, if you can, all of that fascinating information, you might want to look at this photograph taken by the Hubble telescope because colliding galaxies put "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" into the proper perspective. Then ponder what astronaut Frank Borman broadcast back to earth from Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve, 1968, when, while all of us watched live pictures for the very first time of earth rising above the moon’s horizon, he read from the book of Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth....”



  1. Ah, blogpal, forget the Astronomy for a moment or two, and study a little of the ancient art of Astrology, before you hold forth again on stars and planets...

  2. Ah... gives me the shivers, it does, to contemplate the enormity and seeming infinity of space. However, it has occurred to me that, since the definitions of "size" and "distance" have come from the puny mind of man, what if the entirety of space is small enough to fit into the palms of God's hands, and our suns and planets are only the size of what we call atoms? Perspective; everything is perspective.
    "What is man, that you are mindful of him?"

  3. Never-ending fascination in the heavens above us.

  4. So much we don't know except maybe it all goes full circle. If it works for the micro world it might also work for the macro.
    The universe speaks to us. We just don't understand it.
    And God might be holding it all like a water droplet, in the palm of his hand.

  5. I like Pat-Arkansas' comment. As Einstein might have said, everything is relative.

    That scene from Animal House, in which Donald Sutherland was explaining that the atoms in his fingernail might be planets in another solar system/universe was a great scene. Not because we can ever know, but because we can think about it.

    There is a lot of empty space out there.