Sunday, May 15, 2016

Random Inspiration

I have always loved the stars.  I remember when I was a kid, I would go out with a cheap telescope and try to use it without really having any idea what I was doing.  It was mostly enough for me to just be outside starring up at the night sky.  At the time, I had no idea that I would ever actually end up studying astronomy and astrophysics in school or even end up now moving towards a career in astrophysics.  But even when I was younger and considering other career paths, the stars always captivated me. 

I remember hearing people say that learning too much of the mechanics of something can detract from its beauty, but it was opposite with me.  The more I have learned about astrophysics, the more captivated I can become when I step out on a clear night and just look up.  Though, to be completely honest, sometimes I get a little complacent or jaded.  I can get so wrapped up in looking through the telescope that I forget all the amazing beauty that I am seeing, but then out of nowhere it hits me afresh.  That love of the stars and the inspiration will hit me when I least expect it.  I had an experience like that last night. 

I went to VBAS, our local planetarium, for the public show.  Usually, I don't get too much new information out of the public shows, but it can be nice to chat with people or maybe learn a few little things here and there that I have missed in my studies.  But last night was interesting.  The talk was about Jupiter.  I find Jupiter to be a fun object to observe, mostly because you can actually see structure such as bands and moons.  But last night for some reason, I had one of those inspirational moments where I was caught up in the beauty and majesty of Jupiter and its moons in a whole new way. 

The lecture wasn't particularly deep, and really, I am not sure I can quite put my finger on what was so amazing to me.  Part of it was the thought of Jupiter out there with it's moons waiting for us to visit.  The idea of an entire other planet so close to us and yet so far and so much larger than our small home world.  The idea of future adventures that could allow mankind to one day branch out even farther in our exploration of of the stars.  It was more than that, though.  I remember hearing some of the facts and descriptions of the atmosphere and just trying to imagine what it would be like to travel down to the core of such a strange planet, and trying to imagine digging through the ice of the moons to see what is hiding down there.  And then there was just something intangible that just kind of grabbed me through out the lecture.  Something like hope, maybe, but not quite.

It's nights like last night that remind me why I have spent so much time studying astrophysics.  I wish I could help other people see and feel what I did so they would understand how amazing and big our universe is.  I want them to be inspired the way I am when I look up into the night sky. Hopefully, I will be able to better convey my awe and wonder as time goes on because our universe is truly an amazing place and there is still so much left to explore!
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