I recently did some camping at Mount Charleston. Not exactly roughing it, but it did afford the opportunity to capture this image. No tripod, no remote shutter release, 15-second exposure, mild post-processing. If this is what you can get 30 miles from my house, imagine what is visible at Great Basin National Park. I need to make that happen.
The take away: every single one of those dots is a giant ball of gas similar to our own sun. You already know that. Eventually most of those stars will explode spewing heavy atoms such as carbon, iron, selenium, gold, silver… and so on… into the universe from which other things can be made. That is everything up to and including planets and even you. You may already have your head wrapped around that or this may seem absolutely incredible. It’s not. It’s the truth. This universe was not designed with us in mind, we are not special. We are merely “a speck on a speck orbiting a speck” and it is in this limited, miniscule, insignificant environment that our brains evolved. Yes, the brain functions extremely well in this environment, but it is also completely throttled by that environment. We are specialized to survive on Earth and it is this specialization that has narrowed our minds and made us think that we are special. Again, we are not.
We must escape the infancy of our existence if we hope to survive. We must learn to look further than the confines of this Earth, beyond the confines of our individual existences and finally come together in our shared humanity if we are ever to become a great race. If we don’t, we will meet extinction like so many creatures before us and so many more creatures after us.
(I feel like there is something of a thesis here… not a unique one, mind you, but a thesis nonetheless. Sadly I don’t have the time nor the literary skill set to do it justice. Maybe one day.)