Astronomy under a River of Stars
Introduction to the river of stars above our heads More
This eBook is a way of introducing Astronomy to those who would like to know more, but are not into all the ‘technical stuff’, with big un-pronounceable words and lots of numbers. It’s all about standing under a dark sky and simply appreciating how magnificent it is. The knowledge gently imparted in this book is not heavy, like seasoning a good meal, it is meant to add that extra ‘something’ to the uplifting experience of Stargazing.
The title of the ‘Under a River of Stars’ refers to the Milky Way, that wispy thick ribbon of white that observers see arching across a dark night-time sky. One of the many ancient metaphors described it as ‘a river of milk’. This description has always struck me as appropriate and so I chose it as the title for this book. Most of us now know this band is actually the collective light of billions of Stars as seen from a vast distance. But the ancients didn’t know that. They thought; no they believed, the Gods lived up there among the Stars and that this was their river. What a beautiful description, and how wonderful their tales must have been.
The ancients were in awe of the heavens, one can just imagine their questions:
What were Stars and why they are ‘up there’?
Where did the Sun go at night?
What was the Moon?
Why did the Moon seem to change from night to night until it disappeared and then came back again?
These questions were asked throughout the ages, crossing all lands, cultures and religions. The answers they came up with are numerous and most became the foundation platforms to many religions. It is without doubt that this enquiry was the beginnings of science.
These questions eventually led to the building of many monuments: New Grange (Ireland), Stonehenge (UK), the Pyramids (Egypt) , Chichen Itza (Columbia) Angkor Wat (Cambodia) Big Horn Medicine Wheel (USA) Caracol Temple (Mexico) Machu Pichu (Peru). These are a small selection of the more famous ones included in this book.
It seems that the more we unravel the Cosmos, scientifically, the further we separate ourselves from the simply beauty of a Starry sky. In this hectic, technologically driven society we are losing so much of our original selves, I think it’s time we pause and take stock of what is really important to ourselves, our families and our society.
Just as you don’t have to know the names of all the flowers in a garden to appreciate its beauty, so you don’t have to know anything about astronomy to appreciate the beauty of a Star filled sky or a full Moon.
Also included is a small tribute to Carl Sagan the man who inspired so many millions with his groundbreaking TV series ‘Cosmos’ which aired in the 1980’s. Into our living rooms he brought the glory of our own Earth, our Solar System, our Galaxy and the whole Universe. The sound of his hypnotizing voice, his eloquent words, his presence and delivery on a topic previously ignored by the popular media left its mark indelibly tattooed into the hearts of his audience. To me, his connection with the Universe seemed personal, almost every sentence he spoke had a depth and meaning to it as if saw beyond the usual into the impossible and wove it into words so that our hearts more so than our ears could hear. Each content piece ends with one of his more popular quotes. This book is devoted to the exploration of his cosmic perspective.
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