Thursday, 23 January 2014


Just read an article on the BBC about a "nearby" star going supernova
that's been spotted very recently bya clutch of pizza-munching
undergraduates during a ten minute telescope lesson at the Univercity of
London Observatory. Apparently, it's the closest supernova to have been
spotted since the 80's.

The deceased star is a mere 12 million light years away.

12 million light years.

Leaving the millions aside, it all gets a bit heady when you start
measuring distances in time. I know it's hardly a new concept. I've long
been well aware of and enchanted by the fact that when you stare at the
sky you're not looking at a picture of it as it is now, but as it was
then. The light of the stars you are seeing has taken years to reach us:
8.6 years for one of our nearest neighbours, Sirius. Around 400ish years
for that old navigator's friend, Polaris.

A time machine laid out before us every night.

12 million light years. It stupifies the mind on so many levels.

The distance from here to there. The fact that this distant star burst
and died in all her magnificent glory so far, far away. And humanity
only now gets to bear witness to it.

Humbling, that light, however bright and intense it would have been at
its creation, should survive twelve million years in distance and time,
to be glimpsed by us now.

Where will we be in twelve million years? What will we be?

It should leave me feeling insignficant. But oddly, it does not.

Such a beautiful majesty, creation.

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