Anyone out there?

I’ve recently received another email, informing me that my blog was transmitted into outer space again. I don’t know for sure if there is anyone out there in this vast universe but I’m hoping that Earth isn’t the only planet to contain intelligent life, well life for that matter. Whether there’s intelligence on this planet is yet to be proven.

Blog in Space: February 28, 2006

On the odd times I find myself staring into the night sky and seeing countless numbers of stars. I can make out some of the constellations but that is only a handful. Most people can identify the constellation that is commonly known as the Big Dipper. What most people don’t know is that the Big Dipper is part of the Constellation Ursa Major or Great Bear. The Little Dipper, which is part of Ursa Minor, isn’t too far off. If you can find the Big Dipper, locating Polaris, the North Star, isn’t hard. It’s the star that doesn’t seem to ever move.

Polaris is probably the most important star in the sky. It is located almost directly overhead if you were at the North Pole. Its Latin name is Stella Polaris which means “Pole Star.” Polaris has been an important star to sailors because it helps them navigate during the night. All other stars appear to be circling Polaris because it doesn’t seem to move. At the moment Polaris may be known as the Pole Star but in a few millennia, Alderamin in the constellation Cepheus will be the Pole Star. And in another few millennia, Vega, the bright star in Lyra will be the Pole Star. Currently, there is no Pole Star for the southern hemisphere.

Another recognizable set of stars are the three stars that makes up Orion’s Belt. They are a set of stars that appears to be forty five degrees from each other. Those stars are Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. The story behind the Orion Nebula goes a little something like this. Orion was a great hunter and believed that he can kill any animal on the planet. Gaea, Goddess of Earth was alarmed by that so she decided that Orion must be killed in case one day he does kill every animal. So Gaea sent a giant scorpion to fight with Orion. After a brief battle, the scorpion managed to sting Orion on the heel. In honour of the great battle, the two were placed in the sky but at opposite ends so they would never fight again.

Another star to take note of is Proxima Centauri of the Alpha Centauri star system. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to our sun. It is a red dwarf that is approximately 4.2 light years away. Although it is the closes, it doesn’t have a high probability of sustaining life because that star is only 10% of our sun’s mass and about 0.006% of its luminosity. If there are planets in that vicinity, it would be a dark and cold place.

I’ve always been fascinated with astronomy. There’s billions of star out there and it makes you wonder how vast the universe is. Compared to things out there, we’re just an insignificant spec in the cosmos. I find it hard to believe that Earth is the only place in this universe that contains life.

Astronomy Picture of the Day contains some of the most spectacular pictures I’ve seen, like this one of the Sombrero Galaxy.