Sunday, June 28, 2009

Spectacular Saturn

I have always been amazed by the stars (who hasn't?) and the infinite magnanimity of our universe which makes our existence seem so minor and insignificant .. we're more like a speck in the wilderness and that's it. I remember going to the Karachi PIA planetarium on field trips in school, and being awestruck at the wonders of the universe they told us about. From the amazing phenomenon that is the solar eclipse to the composition of planets farther out in our Solar System. If we as a species did not have so much to deal with on our own Planet, we'd be making every effort in traveling the stars, that's for sure. Who knows what wonders await us outside of our little neighborhood in this vast uncharted space. That is also the reason I became a fan of science fiction ... at people's imagination of how the universe could be, and how we one day can travel great distances and seek out other life in the universe. Of how we could one day forget our differences and unite under our commonalities, our humanity.

Having said that, in reality, it is a pipedream right now and all you could really do in this day and age is to go out on a starry night and gaze at the beautiful stars. That's something I did last night! Me and my cousin went to the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society's star gazing sessions that are open to the public. We saw a greatly magnified version of the moon, with all its craters visible. And finally, the beautiful and spectacular Saturn with four of its moons clearly visible. It looked something like the picture here, except it doesn't show the moons. It was the very first time I had seen any of the planets, and the experience was simply wow-ing. Its rings were clearly visibly and very bright. In school, they taught us that Saturn had 18 moons. Well, thanks to the recent Cassini mission ... we now know that a total of 62 satellites actually orbit Saturn. They range from mile-wide rocks to full-fledged celestial bodies much like our own Moon. The rings, too, were thought to be condensed together but as one of the people told me there .. that Cassini discovered that there were actually thousands of small ringlets orbiting Saturn (and that they appear to be a much bigger and a condensed ring from this far out). Millions of years from now, these rings will apparently cease to exist and will eventually break away from Saturn's gravity. I guess we won't be around to see that happening.

It is an experience you have to go through before it sinks in. We only get to "learn" about these things in books, but when you actually get to see a moving planet thousands of miles away slowly but surely drifting in space, it sends a shiver down your spine! Absolutely amazing! You cannot help but say WOW to Allah mian's greatness and at the same time realize our own insignificance. I only wish we did more of such activities back home. Makes your jaws drop and kneel in prayer to God Almighty. SubhanAllah!

Image courtesy

1 comment:

Senilius said...

Oh nice!

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