Why You Should Go Stargazing

The other night, I was playing with the apps on my phone when one of them told me the International Space Station was about to fly over my house.  Naturally, I grabbed my coat and ran outside to catch a glimpse.  I’ve seen the ISS a few times before.  Many apps and websites and at least one Twitter feed will tell you when it’s going to pass over your neighborhood.

After the ISS was gone, I wasted a few more minutes just standing outside staring up at the stars.  I have a few favorites in the sky, like the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy.  Orion can be seen with the naked eye.  Andromeda’s not so easy.  I’ve only seen it once, on a dark night when I was out in the middle of nowhere with a pair of binoculars, but I know exactly where it is: right between the constellations Cassiopeia and Pegasus.  When I look up at all those distant stars and nebulae and galaxies, I like to imagine there’s some squishy creature with three eyes, a few tentacles, and buckteeth staring back at me.

We humans are so small and all the things we think are big problems–they really don’t matter in this huge universe of ours.  Even the International Space Station, one of our greatest accomplishments, is insignificant compared to everything else that’s out there.

Sometimes the pressures of mortgages, dental appointments, and gas prices can be overwhelming.  Sometimes the troubles of the world can be depressing.  Sometimes it’s just really frustrating when the TV remote stops working and you don’t have any spare batteries.  Those are the times when maybe we should stop, look up at the stars, and put ourselves in perspective with the rest of the universe.  The universe is a beautiful thing.  We’re just lucky we get to be part of it.

P.S.: Want to know when the International Space Station will fly over your house?  Here’s NASA’s webpage.  Just go to the “Sighting Opportunities” section and select your country, state, and then town.

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