A Typical Night Out With The Stars
I pack my bag and head out into the starry night. It is a Saturday night but no hot date for me tonight. Instead, I have a date with a star - actually, many stars.
It is nearly an hour later when I reach my viewing gallery. I put down my backpack and lay out my groundsheet right in the middle of the clearing. I switch off my mobile phone and make sure that the only visible light source are the stars and the luminous glow of my watch.
Using my pack as a pillow, I lay down on the groundsheet and gaze up at the night sky - the same night sky that countless men in the centuries before me have seen.
I think about the prehistoric men and wondered what they must have thought about the stars. If I forget about everything I know about the stars, it won't be too hard to think of the night sky as just one big gigantic roof, with the stars being tiny holes in the roof, allowing you to see what lies beyond.
I wonder if they thought the sun was just another hole in the canopy. I wonder what they thought was on the other side. Was it salvation or damnation? In the modern day, a bright light is good, but the fires of Hell will probably burn pretty bright as well.
I think about Galileo Galilei, the father of modern astronomy, and of how he ripped the Earth from the center of the universe. I wonder why the church tried to suppress his works. If they were so confident in the truth of their scripture, why not let Galileo have his say, as it will be a matter of time before he is proven wrong.
I think about the present day in which the Earth, our Sun, and even our galaxy, has been relegated to the status of an average planet, orbitting an average star in an average galaxy. And I wonder why it was so important that we remain at the center of our universe.
I start to think of the future, a future in which I will be but a memory, a future a thousand years from now. I wonder what it will be like. Will we have destroyed ourselves, and the Earth along with us? Or will the world have entered a golden age, a world in which Miss World contestants have to find a new cause to fight for.
Whatever happens, I realize that those on the future Earth will be looking at the same sky and the same stars that I am looking at right now. It gives me a bit of comfort, a little sense of eternity. I feel as if this frail little body can transcend the gulf of time, and be there with them as they look out into the night sky - my night sky.
I think about the second law of thermodynamics, the law that says everything in the universe will run down, and whether it is a law that cannot be broken. I think about a time many, many billions of years hence. It will be a much dimmer universe, with many stars having burnt out and what is left will be spread further apart. Our Earth will be long gone, swallowed up by our Sun, which is now glowing with a dim red light.
I wonder if that is how it will all end.
Suddenly, I smile. I am thinking of a short story written by Isaac Asimov titled "The Last Question". it is a story first published in 1956 but is still so very topical today. It tells of a computer tasked to find a way to beat the second law of thermodynamics, to find a way to stop the universe from running down. Through the many ages of men, it pondered but can offer no solution. But finally, right at the very end, it found a way.
And I wonder if that is how it will all begin again.
Anyway, it is getting really cold and the clouds are starting to roll in. I pack up my groundsheet and start walking home. Tonight, in my nice warm bed, I will dream of cavemen, and stars, and a Miss World without a cause.
And I wonder what I will think about on my next date with the stars.