In spite of, or maybe because of, all the things going on in the world — from political insanity to indefensible misogyny to nature’s massive pandemonium with the California fires closest to home — I found myself slightly obsessed with a recent 60 Minutes segment on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Of all the striking images and jaw-dropping facts (they now estimate that there are 2 trillion other galaxies in our universe), what spoke to my heart was the piece on the “Pillars of Creation” where stars are born.
The above image is of the Eagle Nebula, a mere 7,000 light years from Earth. These tall, billowing columns are made of interstellar gases and dust, which with the aid of strong winds and swirling charged particles, create a nursery for new stars.
And wherever there is birth, there is also death.
The explosion of star is a Supernova. In the words of NASA Astrophysicist Amber Straughn:
Big stars, when they die, they explode and send their contents into the surrounding universe, and these contents are what seed future stars and future planets and help seed life ultimately.
The iron in your blood and the calcium in your bones were literally foraged inside of a star that ended this way.
We are viscerally made of the stars.
As important as it is to narrow the attention and sit in this very moment, in all its simplicity, it seems equally essential to pan back and take the l o n g, expansive view. (Which, when it comes to meditation, might be more the same thing than not.)
Pondering light years and photons and stardust restored my trust in the long haul and, against the scale of space, reminded me that the heartbreaks and devastation of this life are as temporary and finite as they are valid and worthy of honor.
You can see the full 60 Minutes segment here.
And check out this gallery of images from space.
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