We owe everything to the stars. Seriously. Besides the obvious fact that the Sun is a star, it’s unlikely that I’d be able to type this if humanity weren’t fascinated by the heavens over the centuries. Why is that, you ask?
On my travels, I’ve been reading “Science: a history” by John Gribbin. It’s an ambitious attempt to summarise the personalities, achievements and important discoveries in science in the past 5 centuries. Gribbin is an astronomer, and his passion for the stars bleeds through his writing. It has opened my eyes to the importance of astronomy in the development of modern science.
It was the early ‘scientists’ – Tycho, Galileo, Halley, Hooke, Newton and their contemporaries over a roughly hundred-year period who realised and emphasised the importance of observation and measurement in describing natural phenomena, rather than relying entirely on postulation and reasoning. Most of these figures studied the heavens at one time in their careers, giving us an understanding of our place in the universe and laying the groundwork for scientific and technological advances we enjoy today.
So, to those early astronomers, I thank you: science has come a long way since your time, but the stars have barely changed. To think that I can stand and look up at the same veil of stars as indigenous Australians did tens of thousands of years ago is mind-blowing. Next time you’re out of a city on a clear night, stop, take a deep breath, and look up. It’s worth it.