Friday, December 07, 2007
When I got out of the house this morning, at six o’clock, in the crisp darkness, at -14ºC or 6.8ºF, the first thing I saw was the Moon. A luminous sharp crescent, a narrow tilted sickle on the blue-black sky, but with the remainder of its body perfectly visible, its roundness noticeable in a dark matte grey. It stunned me. I don’t recall ever seeing it like that before.
Frigid winter nights like this, especially the “open” ones, when the sky is not lined in the snugly cotton of clouds, when the Moon casts its cold brilliant light and the stars are myriad, invariably make me think with longing of the Cosmos. I try to imagine what it would be like to be “up” there, among my beloved stars, and my heart aches because of their immense beauty and because of their utter intangibility.
I dream of the extremes in temperature and distances, of huge chemical reactions, of the tremendous poetry of astrophysics. Blue giants, and white dwarfs, and comets, and gas planets, and the asteroids in the trans-Neptunian region, all these almost unimaginable exotic things fascinate me. Speak to me knowledgeably of event horizons, of intergalactic space, of supernovae, of dark matter, of Messier objects, and I will fall for you, hard indeed.
Like all children, I think, when they were very very very young, my daughters were fascinated by the Moon. I had taught my youngest to answer, when asked where the Moon was, “In the Cosmos.” Most of the times she would get it right, pronouncing it in a hyphenated way “Cos-mos” but some other times she would invert the two syllables and would say “Mos-cos”, much to our delight. She laughs out heartily now when I remind her of that – she’s a big girl now, she’s four, not a baby anymore…
I hope to instil in them my love for astronomy. I hope they will be among those who lift their eyes, often, and contemplate the sky. And wonder. All things technical are evolving fast these days. Who knows, maybe one day they will walk in Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Showers…