“I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night”

[Invitation]
“I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night”
Galileo Galilei

400 years ago, this same day, Galileo Galilei became the first human to observe the rings of Saturn. Today, the centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement and popular interest surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars.

The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets (i.e., those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water might exist.

The Kepler Mission is proud to be part of this quest. Y-o-u are part of this quest.

Here is our suggestion, our invitation. Let us make this Friday Night, July 30, a “Galilean Night”. Let us wait for our own star to disappear on the horizon, grab a coat, and go outside.

Sit on a rock, lie on the grass, grab a chair, bring the children, call your neighbour, take your dog, your love… and go and stare. All that is required is your curiosity and wonder and your eye for beauty.

Permit yourself a look above. This is your Universe. Contemplate the dark veil of the night sky and the flickering lights of stars as they make their appearance before your eyes, like actors coming from behind a curtain, like bonfires burning in the distance. Let Venus seduce you as she lies down in the West and is replace by a rising gibbous Moon in the East.

See, dream, cogitate about the fact that orbiting those same stars are myriads of planets with such different natures that we can only try to imagine their diversity. Let the imagination flow.
Allow yourself to fantasize. Allow yourself to travel beyond our world, setting sail on your own vessel of discovery through the cosmic sea towards new shores.

Enjoy it. Share it. This is what the experience is about.
When you return from the outdoors, from your journey to the distant stars, we will be here waiting for your travel logs. Your ideas. Thoughts. Insights.
We are all part of the crew, we are all part of the journey.

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    • Cara Rea
    • February 6th, 2014

    It is a beautiful quote, but it was not by Galileo. Give poet Sarah Williams her proper due.

    • Bananaaaaa31
    • May 30th, 2013

    def not G

    • Jeff Taylor
    • April 27th, 2013

    Oops, after my post, I note I have been scooped by about 18 months. Not much of a scoope. At least I am foot noted… small consolation.

    • Anna
    • September 15th, 2011

    Actually, the quote you attributed to Galileo is in a poem called “The Old Astronomer” by Sarah Williams.

    • bas
    • August 28th, 2010

    I read this almost a month after your proposed date, but I that won’t make much difference, will it? I accept your invitation, and I will think of it next time I find myself in a dark field under the stars. Thank you for these thoughts about what astronomy is really about.

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