For as long as I can remember, I've been keenly aware of the heavens. At night, I gaze skyward to inspect the moon and stars and ponder the mighty universe. Lately, though, I've been downright mesmerized by the constructs of space, as my son and I eagerly devour an especially good (and well illustrated) astronomy book, one chapter each night.
Did you know that the Sun is 93 million miles from Earth, and that it takes eight minutes for its light to reach our eyes? Well, that's just an appetizer. The most distant galaxy discovered is more than 12 billion light years away. A single galaxy (and there are untold billions of them in the universe) can stretch hundreds of thousands of light years from end to end, with millions of stars burning within its boundaries. And this entire endless circus is built on gases, dust, celestial explosions and gravitational pull.
After centuries of careful study and amazingly astute findings, mankind is still just scratching the surface in mapping and explaining the cosmos. To consider the vastness of space makes me feel so tiny, so fleeting, so insignificant. On the other hand, it does make me feel like part of something beyond powerful, beyond understanding. It's kind of a religious feeling, now that I think about it.