By SMEEC Guest, Mark Hodgson
For anyone looking for alternatives to medication for calming the nerves during these trying times (to say nothing of more vividly feeling one’s own mortality at, say, 70-years-old, just to pick a number), you might consider visiting your nearest planetarium or astronomy club presentation.
Last evening I had the good fortune to attend a “Star Party” presented by the South Mountain Astronomy Club at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center. Standing there in the dark among the cactus and the curious on the side of South Mountain and seeing the rings around Saturn, in real time and for the first time, had a surprisingly calming effect on me.
And then to see, projected on a monitor fed by the Park’s new Deep Space Imaging System (again in real time) a pair of spiral galaxies millions of light years away really helps put things in perspective. I don’t remember the names of the galaxies, but they looked like NGC 2207 and IC 2163, which are about 80 million light years from Earth and were discovered by John Herschel in 1835.