The sky is full of wonder.
In the day it can be decorated with such a wide range of clouds, colours, weather and more. At night it is once again decorated with diversity yet on a clear night, the wonders seem to intensify.
From the Aurora Borealis to the Milky Way to the vast picture of the moon, stars, planets, suns, nebula’s, comets, satellites and much more that for many it is is both awe-creating and inspiring. For others, well, it may just be lights in the sky or a few glowing dots above a city horizon filled with lights.
However, for many who live in the north, the night sky is a thing of beauty and intrigue. As a child I was always fascinated with constellations and found it so amazing that certain stars, planets and formations could only been seen at certain times of the year and at specific times of the night. It was the first real comprehension I had that the earth was moving. Although, I think it took a while to sink in that the stars weren’t moving, we were.
Years later, I am still drawn to the pictures of the night sky and like to read up on things like when the Aurora Borealis will be at its peak, as well as other unique happenings in the sky. It still holds a big “wow factor” for me when it comes to learning and reading about all the things scientists are discovering every day and how much what they thought they knew has changed.
Last week I was once again shocked to see some phenomenal pictures of the world outside of earth. First there was an incredible picture of Mars that boasted brilliant colours I didn’t realize existed, as I thought Mars was, basically, red. Then I was reading about one of my favourite constellations, Orion, which is on display during the long winter months. I have spent more than three decades enjoying this magnificent group of stars but it wasn’t until last week that I realized there is an orange star called Betelguese that marks his one shoulder (I didn’t notice the colour difference before and now I don’t know how I missed it) and then there is a stunning nebula in Orion’s left knee. First let me share that Betelguese is one of the largest stars known and sits approximately 500 light years away. Now this neat nebula in the knee, which is basically a “glowing cloud in the shape of a blooming flower made of gas and dust” is visible with binoculars. I was so excited to learn this and see for myself the beautiful purple cloud that was gloving from the light of dozens of newborn suns nestled deep inside.
So this week or in the weeks that follow if you are out at night, remember to look up and let yourself be amazed for a moment. Not only do we have a brilliant picture of billions of stars above us but we have pictures and stories sharing their history with all of us. Besides, even though I have been looking up for a long, long time now, I still feel overwhelmed when I take a few minutes to search the vast unknown.
Shannon Hurst is the correspondent for the Three Rivers Report.