Tempera painting by Charles K. Wilkinson-
depicting the Astronomical Ceiling of the Tomb of Senenmut,
1479, BC. From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
My home just got a new name- I have been calling my place "Twittering Patch;" I painted it on the rail fence that was here before I arrived. On the inside of the fence, I painted this message: "Happy Trails." That's what you read when you leave.
My home, and probably yours, too, is now featured in a galactic map, and the name they give our home in a cavern, in a canyon, in a super cluster, is Laniakea. That's all very nice and poetic, but I am going to call it Joe's Place, and I invite you to join me; or go me one better, and give it another name of your own.
Here is another way to consider our ever-expanding knowledge of the other, of "not-us," from author T. E. Lawrence, from his memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom. You might be familiar with his story as having been the basis for the film Lawrence of Arabia.
Nasir rolled over on his back, with my glasses, and began to study the stars, counting aloud first one group and then another; crying out with surprise at discovering little lights not noticed by his unaided eye. Auda set us on to talk of telescopes- of the great ones- and of how man in three hundred years had so far advanced from his first essay that now he built glasses as long as a tent, through which he counted thousands of unknown stars. 'And the stars - what are they?' We slipped into talk of suns beyond suns, sizes and distance beyond wit. 'What will now happen with this knowledge?' asked Mohammed. 'We shall set to, and many learned and some clever men together will make these glasses as more powerful than ours, as ours than Galileo's; and yet more hundreds of astronomers will distinguish and reckon yet more thousands of now unseen stars, mapping them, and giving each one its name. When we see them all, there will be no night in heaven.'
'Why are the Westerners always wanting all?' provokingly said Auda. 'Behind our few stars we can see God, who is not behind your millions.'
Here's a little song that beats around this same bush; and here is a beautiful film that always delights me, from Ray and Charles Eames.
Happy trails to you, until we meet again!