Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Posts tagged “Carl Sagan

Why I love Astronomy?

“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.”

—  Bill Watterson, author of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes

Don’t you just agree? 🙂

Looking up at all those stars just makes me feel so small and insignificant compared to the vast universe. Everytime I think of it, it makes me appreciate a lot of things in life. This may sound cheesy, but I can feel my heart pounding with unexplainable joy and amazement every time I look into the endless dark blue velvet sky filled with stars. The experience somewhat allows me to seek beyond my own self and my own personal struggles at the present moment.

As time went on, my love for astronomy began to grow without me realizing it.

Viewing the constellations, the Milky Way, planets that are visible to the naked eye and several members of the star family and the eye-catching moon – is simply fascinating. Even today, I love to sneak outside and gaze up at the breathtaking panorama played out in the night sky. And I guess I’ll never grow tired doing it wherever I am.

The stars stand as a testimony to my life on several occasions, for I attained bliss under a star-studded sky. Those experiences turned into moments of great revelations in my life and there are many such occasions . One time while setting out on a journey to explore the cosmos with a  friend,  I suddenly felt like I was somewhere miles away. All the distractions of the day are lost in the far reaches of space. We were beneath a beautiful night sky, caught up in the wonderment of the universe. We started gazing at thousands of stars, constellations; comets and the shimmering Milky Way – a sense of euphoria. Just for that moment – it took away all my worries and gave me a new meaning of life. Perhaps, this is why Carl Sagan called Astronomy “a humbling, and character-building experience,” in his Pale Blue Dot.

 I also like what Loren Eiseley said about this in “The Immense Journey.” Speaking of the first time a man looked to the stars, he wrote:

“For the first time in four billion years a living creature had contemplated himself and heard with a sudden, unaccountable loneliness, the whisper of the wind in the night reeds. Perhaps he knew, there in the grass by the chill waters, that he had before him an immense journey.”

Everyday I look forward to my immense journey, and I try to fulfill it to the best of my potential. 🙂

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A Tribute to Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

– Excerpted from The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean, Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980

Yesterday, Nov. 6, 2010, a lot of people from different communities and organization joined the celebration of the Second Annual CARL SAGAN DAY. This event was launched by a local coalition of science and reason-based organizations to celebrate his legacy at the 76th anniversary of his birth (November 9, 1934), and to increase public involvement in the excitement of astronomy and space exploration.

Several activities, like workshops, talks, a 5-k run, science displays, games, showings, etc. were included in this event to encourage public participation. There was even a live streaming of the talks by different speakers on some astronomy and cosmology topics so that people from other parts of the globe could also participate.

Dr. Carl Sagan was a Professor of Astronomy  and Space Science and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He served as an advisor and consultant to NASA, and played a major role in the establishment of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). He was a Pulitzer Prize winning author and most familiar to the public through his COSMOS series on PBS. In addition to numerous awards, recognitions and honorary degrees for his outstanding contributions, he is acknowledged as one of the most effective public faces of astronomy and space science throughout the world. Sagan died in December 1996.

No other scientist has been able to reach and teach so many non-scientists in such a meaningful way. In fact, the National Science Foundation declared that his “research transformed planetary science… his gifts to mankind were infinite” in their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan.

Earth as seen from Voyager 1 while on the edge of our solar system. The image above was taken at the request of Sagan by the science team as the robot was passing the 3.7 Billion miles-from-home-marker.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

The beautiful intro to the Cosmos television series. Carl Sagan talks about the universe and our place within it.

To Dr. Carl Sagan, astronomer, astrophysicist, author, cosmologist, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences, thank you for all your works and contributions, especially for making us appreciate beauty of this vast universe and for sharing  how special our world is. 😀