Yesterday evening I was reading about the form of the visible universe in my new backyard astronomy book. The WideEyedSpouse was doing something involving dinner while I sat at the awesome vintage kitchen table. Wiggins the Ancient Cat kept trying to put his butt on the page. Tibbit the Useless rested her chin on my knee. She was bound for disappointment, as I was reading not eating. Hamish the Corgi sat looking at me, learning about the universe through our mental link.
Stars. Planets. Constellations. Yeah, yeah. Nothing new there. (Except that I discovered that I should be able to see the Milky Way directly above my house right now and all I can see is the glare of my neighbors’ anti-thief lights. Annoying, but what can do you? Cities are creepy.)
Then, I looked at a photograph from the Hubble that captured hundreds of whirling galaxies. They face every which way. They are different colors. Big ones, little ones. Galaxies all over the place in every direction. There are billions of them. I felt a weird nerve rush.
I didn’t know there were so many. Did you? Sure ok, the astronomers and physicists know but. I never realized. Did you know a little one is running into ours over on the other side? Holy cats.
I looked at a depiction of the distribution of galaxies in the known universe. They cluster in strings and clots. They look like rumples of ocean foam on the incoming tide. I sort of wondered what was in between. The astronomy book said there was nothing in between. That seemed weird but ok with me. I like a tidy universe. I guess it isn’t so simple.
Evidently there is dark matter.
Evidently there is dark matter-energy and it is abundant.
Evidently we, the universe, are expanding because of this hypothesized dark energy and eventually all will be diffuse. All will be isolated and alone, beyond each other’s detection – unable to even know that anything else is out there.
The WideEyedSpouse and I have been married for 19 years and 40 minutes as the clock looks at this moment. I’m sitting here at the desk worried about deadlines and dark energy. The WideEyedSpouse is 30 feet and 2 stories away worried about getting the racing stripes placed correctly on the Mini Cooper S. Our little bit of the universe isn’t expanding too quickly for us. I don’t think it can.
Wow, that was beautiful. I had the moment at the end where I couldn’t find the like button.
It’s overwhelming, almost a trillion stars in trillions of galaxies. Funny how racing stripes or maybe stepping in a bit of dog dookie seems important, but they are.
Oh, and those neighbors’ lights… according to Astronomy Mag, they’re called ‘insecurity lights’. Appropriate.
Well, sometimes insecurity means your stuff isn’t going to be stolen. I sorta like my grill where it is, in my own backyard, so it’s a trade off…
In the city, certainly understandable. Way out in the country, those super bright mercury vapor lights can wash out an otherwise brilliant star field.