Stars at Night


credit: NASA and Wikipedia

credit: NASA and Wikipedia


John Jaksich

Stars such as the Sun possess a beauty, an almost imperceptible attraction that tend to change one’s perspective, once their true nature comes to bear. Perhaps we it owe to Galileo, as he was one of the first to record the sunspots and simultaneously help launch the Scientific Revolution. For instance, upon gazing at the Orion nebula with binoculars, one may gain a sense that the colors observed have a molecular constituency familiar to us all . However, this naïve observation is definitely one which leaves most professors scratching their heads, and muttering: “I wish I had time to instill the truth with this one.” Perhaps, yes? But often times, what may seem like naiveté is an actual burning desire to learn. It is an innate desire to understand more fully, or an underdeveloped yearning to question.

As scientists or would-be scientists, observing the Sun is done very carefully; there are various manners in which to do so. Perhaps, the easiest is to go on-line to one of the various NASA, ESA, or their associated sites and just wondrously and safely gaze at it. The Sun in all of its coverage defines the boundaries of the Solar System; and beyond the boundaries, it is estimated that the closest complex of stars is alpha-Centauri. This three-star system (in the constellation Centaur, the bull) is approximately 4.4 light-years away—and by any standard, it would take multiple life-times to travel to it with the fastest of rockets. For those of us new to “star study,” most stars in the Milky Way are multiple star systems. So, our Solar System is in one word: unique. And, a possible interpretation for our Sun’s uniqueness is: the cradle of the Solar system did not hold enough “matter” to coalesce to form more than one Sun.

Credit: NASA and WIkipedia

Credit: NASA and Wikipedia

So as will astronomers tell you, stars like our Sun or the alpha-Centauri complex were born in places like the Orion nebula. That vastly large volume of gas, dust and light hosts multiple star “conceptions.” For instance, the now-famous Eagle Nebula (also known for the “Pillars of Creation”); one can see a “so-called moment of stellar conception” at the very top of the pillar. Those points of light (or the tips of tops of the pillars) are “multiple solar system-sized volumes” of gas, matter, and energy. When one views the Hubble images of the Eagle nebula, not only are we looking back in time, but we view a vast volume or “size” of space that is mind-boggling. In some ways, I envy our progeny; our future generations may well know how to communicate with those at vast light-years away. But, then that makes me, also, feel rather selfish; as if, I did not have enough to offer of myself to them.

Credit: WikipediaPosition of alpha-Centauri in Southern Sky

Credit: Wikipedia
Position of alpha-Centauri in Southern Sky


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