Sunday, June 8, 2008

starry tales

It is rather comforting to think of our forebears watching over us, of God using the canvas sky to paint large the deeds of mortal heroes. It makes little Earth seem important in the universal scheme of things - more than a mere rock amid empty, howling space.

Though man-made lighting has tried to push night away to safe distance, though it has made the stars harder to see, you can still stand outdoors, in a hail of dizzying stars, and spot constellations exactly as your ancestors did. It is still possible to enjoy the stories those stars have generated.

But when you do go outside on a starry night, consider this: The light from some of the stars has traveled for so long to get here that the star itself has long since burned out, gone. What are you looking at, then? The memory of a star? Its ghost? Its story written in light?

Geraldine McCaughrean

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