Last night I had one of those “Wow!” moments – when something that you understood intellectually suddenly sinks in on a whole new level, a deeper, more visceral level. It happened when my housemate Niall called me out into our back garden to have a look at the Moon. The night sky seemed even more dark than usual but the moon was really bright, and then it hit me…
I’m standing on a giant ball of Earth (and water and fire, etc.) that is traveling through Space in an orbit around a huge flaming star (the Sun) with the Moon (a much smaller, but still pretty big, solid globe) in orbit around our planet. The light from the Sun shines out as far as space will let it, but because our planet spins on its own axis, where I was standing was covered in the shadow cast by the other side of our own planet. And because the moon was almost outside of the reach of this shadow cast by the Earth, it shone brightly in the light from the Sun.
Wow! It all seemed so big and 3 dimensional to me.
Then I noticed the stars in the sky and realized that what looked like tiny shining dots of light where actually probably as big as (if not bigger than) our own Sun, and the reason they looked so tiny in the night sky is that they were so very very far away. They may not even exist anymore, but the light they sent out into the universe kept going and going and going through so much empty space until finally hitting my eye, here on this little big planet.