We long to understand why we’re here and to find meaning in a world where meaning is so often difficult to divine. Telescopes like this remind us that in spite of our specific challenges on Earth, the possibility of connection still exists.
For a sense of scale, if you could hold a grain of sand at arms length up to the sky, that speck is the size of the view. It is one minuscule sliver of our universe, filled with thousands of galaxies, each with billions or trillions of star systems and each of those with its own planets.
Each speck of light in that image, each swirling swath of color, contains potentially trillions of planets, many of which are like ours.
That is its own feat, and it’s what space exploration does: It reminds us of our inherent connection. Viewing images like these can also provide a profound sense of insignificance — they offer a sense of proportion and understanding of just how small we are on the grand scale.
To gaze at the cosmos is to gaze back at our history. These speckled, swirling, bizarre galaxies are a part of our past. It is one perhaps less accessible to us, but nonetheless just as important...Yes, we are made of star stuff, and perhaps much more. We are not just humans bound to a blue rocky planet in a galaxy. We are the universe calling ourselves home.