The heavens

We have spent some time this week watching the stars in La Palma, which is renowned for the quality of its darkness. (It is the first UNESCO “Starlight Reserve”.)


(Thanks to Ana Garcia Suarez of for the guided session and for the image.)

Once again, an example of the narrowness of our own perceptions and thoughts: the immensity of space makes everything that matters on earth look very insignificant indeed.

If we worried too much about
– the risk of our sun ending its life and swallowing us up in a supernova of hot gas
– the risk of the earth being hit by huge asteroids and fragmented
– the risk that other intelligent life somewhere out there might suddenly arrive, and do to us what Cortes did to the Aztecs

if we worried about these things, our lives would be very nervous indeed.

Instead it is rather comforting to look up at it all, uncomprehendingly in my case, realising just how big it is and how complex.

Incidentally, why do people think that you should make a wish when you see a shooting star? This is surely just anthropocentricism: there is no possible link between a lump of rock captured by earth’s gravity and any wishes that one or more people on earth may make.


On the other hand, I did have the pleasure of actually seeing (for the first time, at least knowingly) a dramatic planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. That, I can accept, may have an influence on events on earth – although as the human race becomes more divorced from nature and it becomes rarer and rarer for us to notice these dramatic heavenly events, perhaps that influence is inevitably diminishing?

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