It was like no symphony on Earth orchestrated by human skill.
The other night was typical of June evenings, at least where I live.
If you can get away from the distracting noises and bright lights of neighborhoods and shopping districts, and experience the night with both your eyes and ears, the way it was supposed to be, you will be amazed.
A sweet, natural music rose to my hearing from a variety of crickets and other little creatures I wish I knew what, inhabiting the garden and bushes of the backyard. They blend together with great mystery. It is almost like an ongoing conversation in language foreign to me; I am lost in understanding but not in appreciation for the richness of communication, even on the insect level.
Another of their species, the fireflies, were out in abundance, shining their light in a swirling dance.
Above them was the night sky; not very clear on this occasion but the brilliant planet Jupiter shone down from the south. I have been out on many clear nights with my telescope on the deck, only to put the telescope aside for minutes as I gazed at the constellations joined by darting lightning bugs and the orchestra of insects in the darkened foliage.
I could not help but think of how alive and dynamic the Earth is, which of course is one planet among thousands now known to exist circling stars. It’s obvious to us every day that we have a world full of life, of which we contribute. The night sounds and fireflies only added another dimension of the natural variety abounding on this world, circling the Sun and together with the Solar System moving through this wonderful Milky Way Galaxy.
Even without talking about the possibility of life on other worlds, we know the Earth and our neighboring planets are very active in terms of geology, climate and other natural ways.
I for one do not depend on the idea that maybe there is “life on other worlds” to inspire me to enjoy the stars. It does seem to be the driving force for a lot of the long range planning for our future in space exploration.
There may well be life on the planets. It would be very interesting to know. Until 1992 there were no “exoplanets” at all that we knew about with certainty. As astronomers have refined their search techniques, adding to their ground observatories, space telescopes dedicated to locating planets, we have tallied over 3,600 so far. Some of these are Earth-sized and within the so-called habitable zones of their stars, where liquid water could exist.
We can only imagine, if there is life out there, what a spectrum of variety that may exist. What a wonderful cosmic mixture of sound, sight and other sense that may be going rhythm to entire Universe, which in my view, would be fully witnessed by their Creator.
The stars themselves present a wonderfully silent pageant each time we care to look up, speculate and study. No matter the depth of our knowledge or experience, it is easy to come away humbled and grateful.
First quarter Moon arrived June 30.
Keep looking up!
SOLAR ECLIPSE STORIES: As a reminder, I am looking for your reports of past solar eclipses you have observed. Have you ever witnessed a total solar eclipse? When was it? What was it like? Pictures are welcome too. These reports will be published in advance of the much anticipated total solar eclipse crossing the United States on August 21, 2017. Watch for more details in “Looking Up.” Send your reports to the email listed below.
Last quarter Moon is on June 17.
Keep looking up!
— Peter Becker is Managing Editor at The News Eagle in Hawley, PA. Notes are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please mention in what newspaper or web site you read this column.