Thank you, Internet! Thanks to you we are able to enjoy the world a little better. We can connect with people around the globe instantly, learn about other cultures and laugh with (or about!) others. With the advent of the beloved smartphone, our relationship to you has even tightend. Now we can share our food with the world (because sharing real food would be just stupid) and amuse our friends with the quadrillionth photo of our cat napping.
Unfortunately, all this entertainment has one little side effect: We tend to look down rather than up (or straight for that matter, which admittedly has let to some hilarious YouTube videos). And here is the problem with that: We miss out on some pretty spectacular sights.
The Cosmic Bowling Alley
If you live in or near a city, looking at the sky can be quite disappointing. During the day a blue sky might look greyish and boring thanks to the severe air pollution and at night you cannot see anything worth mentioning because of the so-called light pollution. Apart from the obvious drawbacks of said forms of pollution, it seems that people have lost interest in looking at the sky. But looking up has so much to offer.
For example: It makes for a fantastic conversation topic. Don’t believe me? How about this: a couple of years back, I was at a small music festival. While waiting for the next band to come on stage, I absentmindedly stared into the air not expecting anything. Suddenly a bright bluish light shot accross the sky. It clearly was no low-flying aircraft, as it began to break up into smaller pieces before disappearing into nothing. While it surely was no match to that freakishly amazing meteor, that burned up over Russia last year (or just recently; seriously, what is it with Russia and meteors?!), it was undoubtedly one hell of an experience and I still like to tell the story today. Before you jump to conclusions: I was neither drunk nor drugged!
What saddens me is the fact that no one around me noticed the meteor burning up, since everybody was preoccupied with staring somewhere else but the sky. Also: if you look at the videos of the Russian meteors, you’ll notice that a lot of people don’t seem to care that a bright ball of fire is illuminating their surroundings and subsequently blowing out windows. WHAT THE HELL, PEOPLE?!
Size Does Matter
“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
– The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The distances between stars are so big, that it’s hard to imagine (or accept) that by looking up, we see thousands of suns, each with their own planetary system, that are light-years apart from each other; yet we only perceive a tiny fraction of one galaxy out of billions (yes, BILLIONS!). In human terms even our own solar system is ridiculously huge (see this interactive chart for comparison).
Looking up and seeing what is out there, gives you a sense of perspective of where and what you are. It can foster the imagination, create ideas and inspire us to go to the places that are up there. Mankind surely would have never set foot on the moon if someone wouldn’t have thought it might be a cool place to go to (apart from the politically motivated space race during the cold war, people thought about going to space much, much (!) earlier).
E.T. Phone Home
Depending on whether or not you believe in the possibilty of life on other planets, there might – just might – be a chance of alien life being out there and visiting regularly. Altought most of the theories that are circulating the net are rather adventurous, it’s always a possibilty and keeping an open mind certainly doesn’t do any harm. By looking up you might just see that tiny detail that somehow looks out of the ordinary and wonder if this is “just” another meteor, a plane or something completely different after all.
Just Do It Already
No matter what your motivations are, looking up at the sky is time well invested. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or need to take some time off, looking up more is the way to go!
Should you still need convincing, check out the video below (HD and headphones are a MUST!).