This new space telescope has captured breathtaking images of the cosmos—images like the one above, a picture of thousands of galaxies in a sliver of sky the size of a grain of sand. These views of light from 13 billion years ago inspire a sense of awe that is nothing less than spiritual, for proof of which I offer a quote from Shannon Stirone’s recent article in the N.Y. Times.
When we look up (at the stars), we look for ourselves. Dr. (Carl) Sagan once said, “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself,” and that could not be more true. We long to understand why we’re here and to find meaning in a world where meaning is so often difficult to divine. Telescopes like this remind us that in spite of our specific challenges on Earth, the possibility of connection still exists.
Now that Webb is online, working and already sending extraordinary photos, we can not only continue asking the hard questions, but also possibly, someday, have answers to them. To understand our environment in this way is to understand ourselves. To gaze at the cosmos is to gaze back at our history. These speckled, swirling, bizarre galaxies are a part of our past. It is one perhaps less accessible to us, but nonetheless just as important.
Yes, we are made of star stuff, and perhaps much more. We are not just humans bound to a blue rocky planet in a galaxy. We are the universe calling ourselves home.
~submitted by Richard Russell
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