often said (but have forgotten myself at times), "If you
ever need to gain a greater perspective and appreciation for Life,
just look up." Amidst the daily territorial and cultural
conflicts we continue to experience on this floating galatic dustball,
the Universe continues to reveal to us the grand intentionality
and presence of the Almighty.
mid-October, NASA's Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, sent back
images to Earth of a hurricane-like storm (see first photo on
right) on Saturn's south pole. This is the first time a storm
system such as this has been spotted on another planet. This particular
storm measures approximately 5000 miles wide - about 2/3 the diameter
as amazing, a film recorded by Cassini's camera over a three-hour
period reveals winds around Saturn's south pole swirling clockwise
at 560 kilometers (350 miles) per hour.
the largest planet ever found orbiting another star (see second
photo on right), was recently discovered in the constellation
Lacerta, about 450 light-years from Earth. This planet, state
astronomers, is the largest and least dense of the nearly 200
worlds found outside our solar system - lacking density so much
that if it could be put in a cosmic water glass, it would float.
It is being termed the "fluffy planet."
9 was the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, photographing
Mars for nearly a year beginning in late 1971. When the craft
arrived at the Red Planet, it sent back thousands of images and
one striking view was a mountain of unimaginable proportions:
Olympus Mons - a volcano soaring 15 miles above the surface of
Mars! The third photo on the right is the first high-resolution
picture of the volcano's complete caldera at summit of the Olympus
Mons. The caldera itself is two miles wide and spans an area of
Mons dwarfs the largest terrestrial (Earth) volcano, Mauna Loa,
which is just 6 miles high, including the portion of the volcano
that extends underwater to the sea floor.
this is only a minute portion of the ever active and expansive
Universe that is occurring in our own backyard, much to our personal
you want to feel very small? Look to the heavens in the dark of
the same time, do you want to make your own personal concerns
seem very small? Look to the heavens as well, and place your concerns
on the backdrop of the cosmos.
do you want to feel really connected? Then glance up again at
the heavens and know that all you view, including yourself, is
made from the same essential ingredients and by the same galatic
mph headwinds or a 15-mile mountain climb has a way of snapping
each of us out of our egocentric journey around the Sun.