Decades ago, when television was a novelty thing, there was a top-rated show based on the furthermore popular fictional character Superman.
The opening of this program had a familiar phrase that said, “Look at the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane.
How beloved Superman has become in our culture and the worldwide enchantment with extraterrestrials and all things cosmic emphasizes that there is a deep curiosity in all humans about nature and astronomy, even though many people didn’t know to call it stargazing.
Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences of all time. When archaeologists dig up ancient civilizations, even from the cavemen, they invariably find art that shows man’s unquenchable attraction with the stars.
To this day, you can quickly get a lively discussion at any meeting on the topic, “Is there intelligent life on other planets?”
Many have tried to explain humanity’s apparent fixation with outer space as a result of ancient consciousness or as part of humanity’s persistent nature.
Whatever the cause, people of all ages and all nations share this deep engagement in knowing more about the universe in which our tiny planet is a part.
It is quite strange because the actual behavior of a serious astronomy student is not a subject for great adventures. You will never see the movie “Raiders of the Lost Arc” or “Jurassic Park” made about an astronomer.
The thrill for lovers of this science is to stay up all night watching the cosmos through a powerful telescope.
But that fact does not seem to discourage the tens of thousands from entering astronomy each year and the considerable worldwide interest in stars, planets, and the universe.
There may not be another universal human fascination that does so much to make national borders, and even international animosity seems to vanish.
In addition to the Olympic movement, international cooperation to achieve meaningful advances for humanity in space seems to be progressing without interference, even when the nations that collaborate in these projects are virtually at war on the surface of the Earth.
It is strange to see Russian, American, and other astronauts working together as buddies on space missions, even when their countries are busy aiming missiles at each other back at home.
It almost makes you think that we should put more strength and money into the space program, not less because it seems to be a bond that heals tension, rather than creating it.
Why is astronomy so exciting, even though we have no dinosaurs, creatures in motion, or any real danger to most people obsessed with development?
It may be a basic curiosity that all humans have about their natural habitat and this great puzzling thing out there called space.
Perhaps this goes back to the old Star Trek saying that space is “the final frontier.” But we all share this endless feeling of enthusiasm each time we pick up our telescopes and look directly at the cosmos above us.
We feel that we are looking at the beginning of time.
And in light of the problems with the speed of light, which means that many of the scintillating stars out there is light from those stars that started their journey for us thousands of years ago, we are looking directly into the past every time we direct our eyes to the firmament.
But we need not worry about never reaching the final frontier and finding our wonder satisfied.
There will always be more to learn and discover in the world of astronomy. And probably humanity’s curiosity about cosmology is also limitless.
I was looking at globular clusters.
Globular clusters are defined as a dense grouping of thousands to millions of stars.
They are made up of young stars of millions of years to older stars of billions of years.
The stars in these clusters are often closely linked to each other. They are considered objects of the deep sky.
They are easily found in the night sky in the hours before midnight from April to September.
They appear on your telescope as concentrated patches of gray mist.
The significant part is the average distance between any of the given stars is between three quarters at one and a half light-years.
The most spectacular of all is NGC 5139. You can see it with the naked eye because it is three times the diameter of the moon.
There are millions of stars that occupy your display. It is truly a wonderful sight to see. If you live in North Carolina or near +36 degrees latitude, you can easily see it in the night sky.
Clusters like these are prevalent.
In the Milky Way, there are 150 known clusters. The Andromeda galaxy may have more than 500. Giant elliptical galaxies, such as the M87, have up to 10,000.
The exciting thing is that the globular clusters contain some of the first stars that were created when time began.
Its origins are still unclear. The central part of these clusters is found near the galactic nucleus.
And another great majority is on the side of heaven.
These collections contain a high density of older stars, but they are not great locations for planetary systems. The planets’ orbits become unstable in dense clusters.
These clusters can be dated by observing the temperature at which the coldest white dwarf stars are in the group.
Typical results say that some of these stars are 12.7 billion years old or more.