I remember when I first learned that once the Sun had depleted its supplies of hydrogen over the span of five billion years, it would swell in size, consuming Earth as it entered the penultimate stage of its life. For ten year old me, this was one of the most pressing threats that I faced, second only to death by black hole. I cursed the duplicitous nature of the star that gave us warmth and light, furious that it would destroy my home planet long before I got a chance to observe the many cosmic events that were set to transpire after its untimely incineration.
The magnificence of the cosmos has never failed to stir up my emotions. Our perilous existence in the vanishingly thin blanket that we call the atmosphere, hurtling through space as a raindrop falls from the sky, makes our reckless conduct as denizens of that fragile world seem all the more frightening. One can’t help but feel that perhaps we should treat our comfortable alcove in the cruel, endless vacuum of space with the reverence it deserves.
I may not survive to watch the Milky Way collide with Andromeda in 4.5 billion years, but that does not make my fleeting existence any less significant. I am as much a part of the Universe as those ethereal tendrils of gas from which we came and to which we will return. When I gaze upon the dusty arms of our galaxy, splayed across the night sky, I smile, because I know that we have something in common.