Mamacita says: You don’t need a big, strong telescope to see wonders in the night sky, you know. All the ancients had was their eyes, and since the air was unpolluted and without the interference of electric lights, they could see quite a lot up there. I’ve often thought that the ancients must have been able to see a lot more stars in the constellations, because none of them looks much like its name these days. These ancients, with only their eyes, charted and mapped the sky, and did it so well that we are still able to use these same charts and maps, and we still use the names the ancients gave what they saw in the sky. All of this, with only their eyes.
Add to your eyes a pair of binoculars, and your night sky wonders will increase more than you could ever imagine. Those first telescopes, remember, weren’t nearly as powerful as those pink Happy Meal binoculars on the floor of your van. If you have powerful big-boy/girl binoculars, all the better.
Without a telescope – with just binoculars – you’ll be able to see several of Jupiter’s moons, and Saturn’s rings (if it’s turned the right way) and Venus & Mars as discs, not just dots.
Remember how to spot a planet: they don’t twinkle as stars do. Only objects that shine with their own light will twinkle; the objects that shine with reflected light will just shine; they won’t twinkle. Think about it: a twinkling moon would be more than just a little big scary!
This week’s quotations all have to do with the universe. Today (Saturday) is the 20th birthday of the Hubble Telescope, and the pictures this fabulous thing has been sending back all these years have been a source of a LOT of awe for and from me. But then, I used to be a little girl who sneaked outside late at night to lie on top of the car and scan the sky with those very same pink plastic binoculars.
Thank you, Santa, for granting my only wish that Christmas. I still have the telescope; it’s leaning in the corner in the living room. Thank the elves for me, too; they did a great job.
So yes, I have known what it feels like to have a genuine wish come true. While other little girls crossed their fingers and shut their eyes and hoped for Barbie under the tree that year, all I wanted was a telescope. And I got it. I can still remember the sensation of realizing my wish had been granted.
And with it, I could watch the universe, unfolding, closer and clearer than ever. It’s not all science, you know. It’s everything. Science just helps us make sense of it.
1. There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle. — Deepak Chopra
2. Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. — Dr. Carl Sagan
3. The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do. — Galileo Galilei
4. The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. — Eden Phillpotts
5. Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. — Lao Tzu
6. I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown. — Woody Allen
7. Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations. — Alan Watts
8. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. — John Muir
9. I look for what needs to be done. After all, that’s how the universe designs itself. — R. Buckminster Fuller
10. Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case the idea is quite staggering. — Arthur C. Clarke
11. I have long thought that anyone who does not regularly – or ever – gaze up and see the wonder and glory of a dark night sky filled with countless stars loses a sense of their fundamental connectedness to the universe. — Brian Greene
12. Through literacy you can begin to see the universe. Through music you can reach anybody. Between the two there is you, unstoppable. — Grace Slick
13. Man is always marveling at what he has blown apart, never at what the universe has put together, and this is his limitation. — Loren Eiseley
14. Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. — Edwin Powell Hubble
15. Do not look at stars as bright spots only. Try to take in the vastness of the universe. — Maria Mitchell
16. We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe. — Jerome K. Jerome
17. The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. — Muriel Rukeyser
18. Do not lose hope in what the universe has placed you here to do. — Darren L. Johnson
19. When I learn something new-and it happens every day-I feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more comfortable in the nest. — Bill Moyers
20. Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes — goodwill among men and peace on earth. — Albert Einstein
21. t has been rightly said that nothing is unimportant, nothing powerless in the universe; a single atom can dissolve everything, and save everything! What terror! There lies the eternal distinction between good and evil. — Gerard De Nerval
22. My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. — John B. S. Haldane
23. It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small. — Neil Armstrong
24. To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit. — Stephen Hawking
25. The celestial order and the beauty of the universe compel me to admit that there is some excellent and eternal Being, who deserves the respect and homage of men. — Cicero
26. Each small task of everyday is part of the total harmony of the universe. — St. Theresa of Lisieux
27. The center of the universe is everywhere. — Native American Proverb
28. Within our bodies course the same elements that flame in the stars. — Susan Eschiefelbein
29. If you believe that God created the whole universe and everything that it contains, do you really think he cares about what you wear? — Anne Frank
30. The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction. — Rachel Carson
31. When we look into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it. Without clouds, there could be no rain, and there would be no flower. Without time, the flower could not bloom. In fact, the flower is made entirely of non-flower elements; it has no independent, individual existence. It ‘inter-is’ with everything else in the universe. –Thich Nhat Hanh
32. When science discovers the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to find they are not it. — Bernard Baily
33. Perhaps there are somewhere in the infinite universe beings whose minds outrank our minds to the same extent as our minds surpass those of the insects. Perhaps there will once somewhere live beings who will look upon us with the same condescension as we look upon amoebae. — Ludwig von Mises
34. A lot of prizes have been awarded for showing the universe is not as simple as we might have thought.
— Stephen W. Hawking
35. A man said to the universe:
‘Sir, I exist!’
‘However,’ replied the universe,
‘The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.’
36. Astronomy concerns itself with the whole of the visible universe, of which our earth forms but a relatively insignificant part; while Geology deals with that earth regarded as an individual. Astronomy is the oldest of the sciences, while Geology is one of the newest. But the two sciences have this in common, that to both are granted a magnificence of outlook, and an immensity of grasp denied to all the rest. — Charles Lapworth
37. But, on the other hand, every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. — Albert Einstein
38. In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ — Carl Sagan
39. Joy in the universe, and keen curiosity about it all—that has been my religion. — John Burroughs
40. The parts of the universe … all are connected with each other in such a way that I think it to be impossible to understand any one without the whole. — Blaise Pascal
41. We should do astronomy because it is beautiful and because it is fun. We should do it because people want to know. We want to know our place in the universe and how things happen. — John N. Bahcall
42. W]hen Galileo discovered he could use the tools of mathematics and mechanics to understand the motion of celestial bodies, he felt, in the words of one imminent researcher, that he had learned the language in which God recreated the universe. Today we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift. — William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton
43. Every great scientific truth goes through three states: first, people say it conflicts with the Bible; next, they say it has been discovered before; lastly, they say they always believed it. — Louis Agassiz
44. What blessedness it is to dwell amidst this transparent air, which the eye can pierce without limit, amidst these floods of pure, soft, cheering light, under this immeasureable arch of heaven, and in sight of these countless stars! An infinite universe is each moment opened to our view. And this universe is the sign and symbol of Infinite Power, Intelligence, Purity, Bliss, and Love. — William Ellery Channing
45. Oh man! There is no planet sun or star could hold you, if you but knew what you are. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
46. If God creates a world of particles and waves, dancing in obedience to mathematical and physical laws, who are we to say that he cannot make use of those laws to cover the surface of a small planet with living creatures? — Martin Gardner
47. Since, in the long run, every planetary civilization will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring–not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive… If our long-term survival is at stake, we have a basic responsibility to our species to venture to other worlds. — Carl Sagan
48. The earth is the cradle of humankind, but one cannot live in the cradle forever. — Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
49. When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger. — Chinese Proverb
50. A country so rich that it can send people to the moon still has hundreds of thousands of its citizens who can’t read. That’s terribly troubling to me. — Charles Kuralt