The most ancient things you can see with your bare eyes are, indeed, those great formations which exist in the night sky.
Late nights on campus after exhausting myself with the Landyachtz Drop Carve 37 – my faithful longboard pal – I would lie down on UA’s Heritage Hill. Its slight incline provided most excellent positioning for night gazing.
Always, out came Google Sky Maps. There was no hesitation in indulging myself in the wonder of the great beyond.
Disciple of the micro sciences by day, & student of the larger universe by night.
Messier 49, for example.
56 million light years away.
The nucleus of this galaxy is emitting X-rays, alluding to the presence of a super-massive black hole that is 565 million times the mass of our Sun.
5,900 globular clusters – spherical star formations tightly bound by gravity, centered around the galactic core. Our Milky Way galaxy has, approximately, 150.
Can you fathom any of this?
This is one Messier object among 110, & a small bunch among infinitely more cosmic information, research, data, and interests. Our biological systems and Earthly laws are enough to awe at for many millennia, yet we look always, towards the stars.
The night sky fascinates our minds & hearts, as if the yearning for ancient knowledge and wisdom rests just above our heads.
One may note we are constructed of the same elements of this Earth, our Sun, the Solar System, and beyond. Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorous, Sulfur… we are a construction of the universe no more or less than our neighboring stars and galaxies. One may perhaps argue, then, we are siblings of the stars and galaxies themselves.
In exploring space, we are exploring ourselves. The ancient yearnings are, at their root, a yearning to understand oneself. Thus, our most exploratory sciences are not so ‘out there’ as we think – they are more of a reflection of how deep we are willing to go, within. We are stars, & we are galaxies.