Look Up

Look Up:idea:
I enjoy my telescope and all the little attachments and tools that I have added to it. But sometimes all I want to do is step outside and look up.

With my telescope, it is fascinating to look at Jupiter and see some of its moons. It is amazing to get close up looks of our Moon, to see craters in detail. It is awesome to scan the telescope across the sky and spot star clusters like the Pleiades. To be able to see details that cannot be seen with the unaided eye is truly wonderful.

At times, however, it is best to leave the telescope alone and simply look at the night sky and to allow the wonder of it to wash over you. There is an enhancement on both sides. Just looking up, I know that bright star is Jupiter and that more than 30 moons are spinning around it, and even with my meager telescope I could see at least four of them. As I look up, I know in that patch of sky that seems empty, a simple pair of binoculars would reveal several dozens of stars. Experience with the telescope enhances the wonders of the skies above.

Likewise, looking at the sky without the telescope enhances the wonders of the telescope itself. Seeing the night sky as our ancestors saw it, as mysterious lights, some grouped into arbitrary shapes, seemingly without reason or purpose, enhances one’s curiosity. Looking up, you realize why it was once believed that the heavens were immutable, unchanging and permanent. Things move in such a super slow motion that they seem fixed and rigid. As you study the sky overhead, you become aware that the ancients recognized that some little lights moved differently from the rest, and why they gave them the names of the gods. As you look into that sea of black dotted with little white sparks, you appreciate that you have a telescope, or that you can look at pictures from NASA, and that you actually know what those little sparks are.

How awesome it must have been for Galileo and other early astronomers to have turned those first telescopes to the lights overhead. Imagine it. The night before, they looked at those twinkling dots and thought of them as those immutable, unchanging effects of a god. The next night they look through a tube and saw some lights they had never seen before. They turn their new tool to lights named for a god, and they saw a face, round balls with color and shape, and they saw that those balls have little balls of light around them. And the next night they saw that those tinnier lights around those colored balls had moved. The unchanging, immutable heavens changed. The universal view of those early astronomers must have been shattered, within a matter of days.

Sometimes just looking up is as enhancing as the enhanced view of a telescope, especially when you have the option and knowledge the telescope gives you.

About Sifu Keith Mosher

My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge". I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager, and I am currently an Author and a Martial Arts Instructor.
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