Outer space. It’s got to be the most fascinating subject on the face of this planet I recon.
When I was in high school, I wanted to be an astronomer. I was so fascinated by the universe that I started buying a magazine all about it because I wanted to learn more. In Year ten, we were encouraged to talk to our Career Adviser regarding any questions around career decisions and the possible subjects which may be needed to study in Years eleven and twelve. Someone told me that the best career is one you love, so I decided that astronomy was for me. Approaching my Career Adviser, I asked how I go about becoming one. She told me she didn’t know and would get back to me. Even though I asked a few times if she had found out anything, maybe it was too hard of a request because she never did get back to me.
Looking through pictures of the universe and the galaxies within it, feels a bit like hanging over an abyss – no solid ground beneath you and there’s the looming threat of a never-ending fall. It is so super massive that its sheer size is incomprehensible and normal measurements can’t be used to describe it. Hearing “light years” as a measurement is unfathomable to my tiny brain. I have trouble estimating what a kilometre looks like in distance, let alone one light year.
Light travels at the speed of 299,792,458 metres per second. One light year is travelling at the speed of light for a year. One year contains 31,536,000 seconds. So, in one year light travels about 9.5 trillion kilometres! That means if a planet is 10,000 light years away, that’s 10,000 times 9.5 trillion kilometres away! Wow just doesn’t seem to be an appropriate exclamation to statements like that!
The universe is full of mystery and wonder. What are the other planets like? What are their atmospheres made up of? Is it compatible to life on Earth? Is there any life on other planets – big or small, or even microscopic? Does space have a bottom and a top? Does it have sides? Does it ever end? Is the universe round or flat? Does the universe have a depth? How do the planets all just hang there?
Our minds tell us there has to be a boundary, a limit, but there doesn’t appear to be one. It goes on and on forever and holds planets 1000 times bigger than Jupiter. Even the strength of the universe to hold an unlimited amount of weight and keep the planets all hanging in their positions is nothing short of miraculous.
The thought of life on other planets is exciting to contemplate because it is hard to imagine there’d be no other life on any other planet anywhere in the universe. It just doesn’t seem logical that we’d be alone in this immeasurable expanse. We are a mere speck, a little blue dot, in what could be described as being smaller than a grain of sand in comparison. We are the right distance from the sun, and the right atmosphere, and the right amount of water to support life. Are there any other planets like ours with the same conditions out there?
I’ve even heard it’s expanding. Not sure if that means it’s growing or that we’re reaching out further and finding what’s already there. But hearing it just makes me feel more in awe of this majestic, mysterious, wondrous, living and breathing universe we are a part of.
Everyone who knows me, knows that I am vertically challenged. So when I consider the universe, its galaxies and its planets, I feel hugely insignificant and even smaller than normal. If Earth is a speck, then we are smaller than ants – microscopic. That’s hard to imagine since our own planet is huge to us. Did you know that the Earth is only roughly 40,075 kilometres around the equator and 40,007 kilometres around the poles? After talking in light years, that sounds like $5 does to $1000 – a long way off!
Tonight, I googled space and, of course, found hundreds of pictures of galaxies and planets, real ones from telescopes, NASA and other sources, and others drawn from creative imaginations. All of them awe worthy. The beauty of space is breath taking.
One of the pictures I came across was from an article. I was curious so I clicked on the link and it took me to the web page of the story. It was talking about black holes and how scientists believe they may have captured, for the first time, photographic evidence of one in action – a step closer to understanding them better. So fascinating! It’s almost crazy to think that there is something out there with a gravitational pull so intense that anything which goes near it gets sucked into it no matter the size.
How did space come to be? If space holds the planets and all that’s in it, what holds space? There are various theories for the origin of space from the big bang to God created it. When it comes to origin, when you go back looking at what came before something else to create it, there is always something that had to come before it. Even the big bang had to have something create it and something to create the spark which caused the big bang, and so on, for eternity. There is no end to the beginning of space and time.
As a Christian, I believe in creation. Many years ago, I read somewhere that God designed Earth like a space ship with the sky as the window, it’s purpose being to encourage us to search the universe for answers and gain a glimpse at what He is capable of. He knows that the more we search, the more we will find. Does space go on forever? My answer is most definitely a yes because God is infinite. There is no beginning or end to Him so the universe has no beginning or end and we will never see all that He has created in it because of it.
To me, creation is the only thing that makes sense. It is the only answer to the question what came first, the chicken or the egg? No matter how you look at it, you have to have the chicken to get the egg, but you have to have the egg to get the chicken. Something had to create the chicken so the egg could be, or it had to create the egg so the chicken could be. It goes back and forth forever with no end in finding the beginning. Unless you put God in the equation you will never have an answer. Sometimes the most ridiculous sounding answer is the most truthful answer.
However, no matter how you believe the universe was created, there is no denying its enormity, its wonder, its mystery and its beauty.
If you are like me and love reading about what they know about space and seeing the photos they have of planets hundreds of light years away, following are some links which may interest you. Let your mind be blown away by all the discoveries!