May 15, 2009

Space Shuttle Against the Sun: Despite Interruptions the Age of Miracles and Wonders Continues


What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust?"
-- Hamlet

With all the squabbles and bickering that make up our present perverted polity, it's easy to miss the real achievements of the nation. The image above of the shuttle against the sun is today's emblem of real achievement.

Although chained to my day and age, I still maintain that in a thousand years the main moment remembered that occurred in my lifetime will be everything that led up to and away from this moment:

Footprint on the Moon On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong put his left foot on the rocky Moon. It was the first human footprint on the Moon.

Today's images will be lost in the sands of time, but will, for now, stand in as a reminder of what extraordinary and exceptional beings we are. As someone once said, "We are all lying in the mud, but some of us are looking at the stars."

One of those stargazers is the photographer, Thierry Legault **, an engineer famed for his pictures of space taken in his yard in Paris who took these images in Florida, 60 miles south of the Kennedy Space Centre.

Not widely published today are other shots Legault took, such as these in which both the shuttle and the Hubble space telescope can be seen just before the rendezvous in which a ship from the Earth took the greatest scientific instrument in history into its cargo bay for "repairs."



And so, while the petty politicians bleat, and the small and not so small wars rage on in fits and starts, almost everyone on the Earth will sleep tonight with someone they don't really mind all that much. And tomorrow the kids in the playground across the street will run and skip and jump at recess. And tomorrow our planet, one of many like it or perhaps alone in the universe, will turn full of much more goodness and grace than hate and suffering.

And tomorrow, somewhere in mid-heaven, floating weightless between the Earth and the Sun, men and women will carefully repair and refurbish a telescope so that we might see ever deeper into the whole of creation, and perhaps even, just a bit, into the mind and purposes of God.

These are the days of miracle and wonder,
This is the long distance call,
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all o-yeah,
The way we look to a distant constellation
That's dying in a corner of the sky,
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don't cry baby don't cry
Don't cry don't cry

** Other high definition shots by Thierry Legault of Transit of Atlantis and Hubble in front of the Sun.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 15, 2009 3:56 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Yeah, but it's not Elizabethan England.

Posted by: Eric Blair at May 15, 2009 3:13 PM

It is always Elizabethan England. Once and future...

And, if you want to get pedantic, it is Elizabethan England 2.0.

Posted by: vanderleun at May 15, 2009 4:17 PM

I, too, remember the thrill of watching the first men exploring that mysterious orb that has inspired wonder and poetry from the beginning of recorded time.

My son explores it from the side of a mountain in Texas.

Decades after the moon landings he and his team discovered the moon's sodium tail during a particularly strong Leonid meteor shower that struck the moon and knocked sodium atoms into the solar wind and past our planet.

Much mystery remains. More poetry to be written.

Posted by: Cathy at May 15, 2009 6:57 PM

Aye, Gerard, but will these forty years be nothing more than a rogue wave that washes high up the shore
and then returns no more?

Posted by: Cris at May 15, 2009 7:10 PM

I agree with you that that footprint is a defining moment and helped blur the biggest defining moment for me from a few years earlier, when I was a new freshman in college. That was the day Kennedy was shot and almost at the exact same moment that this news was announced the campus boiler blew up and we all felt like the end of the world was happening around us.

My Mother, who was born in 1910 and lived 'til age 94, has the moon landing listed in her journal as the most exciting event of her entire lifetime. I know that she splurged for her first color TV in order to watch it.

I spent that night with friends in a tiny studio apt. where we pulled down a Murphy bed and all 7 of us piled on to watch a small 13" TV. None of us was particularly religious at that time of our lives, but we held hands and said a prayer together as the LEM was about to touch down.

Posted by: Sara (Pal2Pal) at May 15, 2009 8:30 PM

Mankind will go to the stars. But it won't include the US. We're too tired and selfish. China and India will lead the way from now on.

Posted by: St. Thor at May 16, 2009 6:43 AM

Don't despair of your own country; it's still the only hope for real progress and freedom on this planet. Just delete the Obama phenomenon soonest; it is a glitch that needs urgent rectification and replacement with something better. One hopes that this blog and others of a similar mindset can develop something suitable quite quickly. Your cousins over the pond here now have complete system failure which is beyond repair; watch listen and learn to avoid a similar fate. And Thor: China and India are part of the problem, not the solution.

Posted by: Frank P at May 17, 2009 6:07 AM

These pictures alone destroy the argument that the west is nothing more than a culture of me me me tits and drugs....we are so much more.

Posted by: thud at May 18, 2009 3:07 PM