Stars and planets fill our night sky, yet many of us never take the time to observe them. Simply looking at the vast expanse of the universe can open up your perception of reality and calm your soul.
How many times have you been outside at night and never took a moment to look up? In a hurry to get to this place or that, or simply to call the cat in for the evening, most of us do not consider the sky at night. We have our attentions focused on mundane aspects of life, such as getting the garbage can to the curb for morning pick up, watering the plants on the deck, and making sure that the house is locked up and secure. Why would we want to take the time to look at the sky when so many life-things demand our attention?
There is one very good reason why it is important to look up once in a while. Stargazing can be good for the soul.
We tend to forget that no matter what may be going on in our lives, we are living on a planet in a far-flung arm of our galaxy. That sounds like science fiction, but it is truly our reality.
When we go outside at night and look up, we see a carpet of tiny dots of light all across the night sky. Those tiny dots are stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae, all far flung and a part of the visible universe. It doesn’t take an advanced education to appreciate the cosmos, just a desire.
Our daily troubles and issues can consume us, causing us stress and grief. We look for ways to alleviate the pain, turning to television, alcohol, or medications to help us cope. An alternative to these methods is the simple act of stargazing.
Think it cannot help you? Give this exercise a try.
On a clear night, go outside at least two hours after sunset. The sky should be nice and dark and, depending on any light pollution in your area, filled with stars. Grab a chair and make yourself comfortable. Now, look up.
In that sea of darkness above you there are other worlds out there, stars in other parts of the Milky Way galaxy. These are our cosmic neighbors. The closest star to our planet is of course the sun, which is obviously only visible during the daylight hours. But what about the next closest star? That would be Proxima Centauri, which is approximately 4.22 light years from our sun.
What are 4.22 light years? A light year is the length of time it takes a beam of light to travel in one year. Light moves at about 186,000 miles per second, so a light year is an extremely long distance. Take the number of seconds in a year; multiply that by the speed of light, then multiply that number by 4.22. Kind of mind boggling, isn’t it?
Look back up at the sky and pick out a star, any star. Unless you know basic astronomy and can identify Proxima Centauri, the star you are looking at is further away than 4.22 light years. When you realize just how wide and expansive our universe is, you begin to see that things you think are important are just trivial.
Yes, you need to pay the bills. Yes, you need to go to work tomorrow. Yes, your daughter is going through puberty and driving you up a wall. However, when you look up into the night sky and see the enormity of what is out there, it helps to bring some perspective in your life.
If all of that exists in seemingly relative peace, then why can’t I?
Practice stargazing several times a week and begin to feel better about your life. You may even develop a keen interest in astronomy, and we all know that having a hobby is a way to decompress from the stress of life. What better hobby is there for relaxation than simple stargazing?
Look up, and chill out.