When the weather gets cold the sky gets pretty. I noticed today as I looked at night falling outside my kitchen window, just how beautiful the colours become with on onset of freezing air. As the orange and yellow hues, pastel against a turquoise sky subsided to night, I was reminded of ink spilling across a child’s drawing. It’s a shame the city lights block out the stars; I’ve been in rural countryside on wonderful winter nights, when it seems like someone has pocked holes into a sheet of black, and a heavily glow is shining through. Despite this, those single points strong enough to permeate the pollution hold a power all their own, and the moon is dazzling in the cold. I’ve been listening to the silence of the house as it’s members retire to sleep, and I chose to stop writing the ‘super-awesome-secret-project’ to glance out the back door, to see my breath heed to the outer air after a moment of foggy resistance. Where does breath go when we can’t see it anymore? I wonder which plants feed upon the essence of my life even in the un-nurturing climate. In the night, the world beyond the gate is steady, unflinching.
Stars are suns thousands and millions and light-years away, just spots on our vision allowed to burn to our knowledge because our sky becomes dark. Yet, even though they’re so distant, we can still see them; isn’t that remarkable? Stars are so large, so immeasurably potent in their life that galaxies of separation doesn’t diminish their presence, but in fact makes them more beautiful, more important to us. People have mapped their worlds, chosen destiny via the positions and movements of dots in the sky. The largest star known to us is called VY Canis Majoris, a red hypergiant in the Canis Major constellation. It’s located about 5,000 light-years from Earth, and its upper size was recently calculated to be more than 2,100 times the size of the Sun. Light takes more than 8 hours to cross its circumference. By comparison, Earth is like a single grain of rice in the centre of Oxford University. When I contemplate how tiny we are, how we really are just a piece of sand in a mighty desert, I feel small, so little, and yet as significant to the workings of the Universe as if were a sun myself; I do not say that as a boastful comment, because really we all are; whether here by accident or by design, we’re here.
Stars are mortal. Stars can die. Just like we tiny humans, they have a lifespan, and when their energy is used, they are summoned by death. One day our sun will die, and it’s mighty, and all life on Earth depends on its thriving, and yet one day it will die. And sometimes I wonder, when we die do we become stars?