Saturday, August 22, 2009

Looking Up, Waaaay Up


image by Kaddy via Flickr

Last night I watched a strange collection of documentaries that was like Jean Cocteau meets Jacques Cousteau. Beautifully abstract at times but generally sort of obscure and dull. Bored by a film on the sex life of a cephalopod, which was surprisingly obscene, I decided to ignore it and go out onto the deck to take in some cushions that had been left outside.
...a film on the sex life of a cephalopod... was surprisingly obscene

It was a clear night and the sweeping search lights from the CNE grounds caught my eye. Quite a few stars were visible, a rarity for Toronto, so I thought to lay down on the deck chair and let my eyes adjust to the night sky. Only a few days ago, I stood outside in the cold of my parent's garden trying to see a meteor shower I'd read about. I did see a few shooting stars but no shower. I was sort of hoping to see something similar tonight. Instead I saw mostly the bellies and blinking lights of aircraft passing overhead. After a little while I noticed a small star that seemed to be moving. As I tracked it across the sky I realized I was probably following a satellite. Shortly after that, I spied another.

Momentarily, I was disappointed to have only seen artificial lights in the night, but it occurred to me then that it was really pretty impressive. Here I was surrounded by the summer sounds of cicadas, crickets and frogs (not to mention the traffic hum of the city) and miles above me were hunks of metal and circuitry – some filled with people – others merely filled with more metal and circuitry. We talk so much about achievements of man that are visible from space that we seem to forget the more remarkable achievements are visible from Earth looking out into space.

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