Are you a stargazer? After your Thanksgiving feast, in this season of dark skies, let’s look up—way up—at beautiful stars, planets, and the amazing universe around us. There are so many reasons to be grateful. Bob Berman gets us started …
(Note: This is a reprint of Bob’s letter on Cosmic Gratitude.)
It would be nice to hold a Thanksgiving star party, where we astronomers could rattle off their own special reasons to be thankful. I’ll go first.
We can give thanks that the Moon and Sun both appear the same size—true of no other planet—which allows total eclipses to occur in our lifetimes. In just a few tens of millions of years, the slowly spiraling-away Moon, departing at the rate of 1.5 inches a year, will no longer appear large enough to blot out the Sun.
We can be grateful for the way stargazing soothes the soul and quiets the mind. Your neighbor, who keeps his yard lights on, might deserve to serve an indefinite term at a special brightly lit prison. Instead, we invite him over to look through the telescope at the night sky wonders. The heavens induce a peaceful forbearance. (No longer do I roll my eyes when someone says, “You’re an astronomer? What’s your sign?”)
I’m thankful that at star parties, nobody plays music through the loudspeakers. Problem, of course, is different tastes. I think rap music should never be played when the Milky Way is out, but you may think Saturn looks better accompanied by hip-hop.
We can give thanks that astronauts do not make political speeches every time they reach orbit.
That good telescopes are now affordable.
And that during the earliest UFO landings, some of the aliens got left behind and multiplied here on Earth, where they came to be enjoyed—as turkeys.
As we look out towards space, let’s not forget the Earth itself, our remarkable life-bearing—as well as life-protecting—home. We are thankful.