Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Planetary Pavane: Finale

If you stepped out into the gathering dusk yesterday evening you probably saw the fading colors of the day, shading down through deep blue and violet.  You might have watched as the streetlights came to life, as the Moon rose through the trees or as the first stars appeared overhead.  Perhaps you saw a few fireflies. You may have heard the hum of distant traffic, the fluttering of a hungry bat’s wings in the still air, hushed conversation or even the laughter of a small child at a distance.

I truly hope that, in addition to all of the myriad possible sights, sounds, scents and sensations you encountered last night under the darkening skies, you also felt a moment of vertigo.  That, in glancing up into the heavens and seeing two bright “stars” very close together high in the west, you experienced an instant of wonder at seeing with your own eyes two sister worlds to the Earth brought together by gravity, momentum and perspective, appearing so close as to seem only a hairs-breadth away from collision!

Did you look up last night to see Venus and Jupiter in conjunction, wheeling past each other as close as you will ever see them?  With less than half-a-degree of sky visible between them, did you watch the display and catch your breath at the sight of the largest planet in the solar system and the most reflective one by far suspended in the twilight?

Did you, for just one magnificent, awe-struck moment know the orbits, the revolutions, the perigees and the apogees and the ellipses that make up our lives, every one of us?  Did you feel it?

Did the Earth move for you last night?

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