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....”