It was easy to see the five planets visible in the southern sky around 6:30 while walking Sammie, our Golden Retriever this morning. I understand they are Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. I’ve been fascinated by astronomy and cosmology ever since growing up in Florida, within site of Cape Canaveral and surrounded by enthusiasm for the “space race” in the 1960’s.
My favorite elementary school teacher, Adelaide Davis, and her husband Orville (who was later my high school principle), took a special interest in me and a buddy, Bryan Morris, because we were both “science nerds” and good students. They even took us with them to some meetings of “The Astronomers’ Club” to which they belonged in Orlando.
We spent a number of happy evenings looking through their sophisticated, though amateur-grade, telescopes, peering into the night sky and asking endless questions about what we were seeing. One Christmas I received a “Moonscope” which was an inexpensive, reflective telescope which at least allowed clear visibility of the moon’s surface and the sense that its rugged surface and deep craters were within easy reach.
It is, of course, clear that no “life” as we understand it is present on those five easily visible planets I saw this morning. Equally clear that no such life exists in our solar system. In fact, we seem to have found no real indications of any in our galaxy. I often wonder if we are indeed “alone in the universe.” Of course, given the vastness “of interstellar space” and the possibility that there are even multiple universes, the chances seem quite small.
It would prove no challenge to my faith if we were discover other forms of life, even other religious systems “they” might have developed to understand their place in the universe. But, if indeed, we earthlings are indeed alone in the universe, I would not find that troubling either.
In fact, I would find it…awesome!
All this…and just us?