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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beyond Andromeda

During the summer I went out on our deck on eastern Long Island, looked up at the sky and surveyed the several constellations I'd learned back when I was a navigator in the Navy. There was Orion, the Big Dipper, Perseus, the Pleides, Gemini and Andromeda. And I looked for various stars I had used to navigate around the Pacific: Sirius, Rigel, Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, Arcturus, Capella and several others.

But it was Andromeda that captured my fancy, because with a pair of binoculars I spied the famous companion galaxy to our own Milky Way, Andromeda. There it was as a slight, black and white fuzzy presence in the sky, some 2.5 million light years distant.

And speaking of our galaxy there it was directly overhead. For some reason I had missed it during the more than 30 years Nancy and I have lived in Shinnecock Hills near Southampton, NY. An arching band of stars, unmistakable in its majesty and splendor, with our solar system about 25,000 light years from the turbulent center that houses a massive black hole.

I start this blog with "Beyond Andromeda," because on this early August evening at about 10 PM I wondered what lay beyond our nearest galaxy. I wanted to know more about the galaxies receding from us. While Andromeda and the Milky Way speed toward each other, other galaxies recede, thus, according to astronomers, giving us some evidence of the very existence of the Big Bang.

My wonderings on that peaceful led to this blog posting. For in the days to come, I want to share various wonderings on a wide range of subjects, trying always to identify my own perplexities as Socrates claimed was his only purpose, not to lecture but to infect the youth with the perplexities, mysteries, puzzles and doubts he felt himself.

Wondering is my stock and trade these days--about nature, politics, human life and the great beyond.

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