My parents would then change the television channel and again I would see people walking on another world. But this time it was on the 6 o'clock news. A grainy video of astronauts in bulky spacesuits standing on a monochrome landscape with the crackling audio of a voice calmly saying "Beautiful, magnificent desolation." It was, arguably, one of the few moments in human history when reality was more amazing than our wildest dreams.
|Six months after Apollo 13.|
Photo credit: Mom, Halloween 1970.
I dug craters in the dirt in my backyard and my astronauts navigated a rover around them. Occasionally I would glance in the sky and wonder if, at that moment, they were looking back. In retrospect, it is quite possible that they were.
I began to read astronomy magazines that were illustrated with artists' conceptions of what the planets in our solar system might look like, if we could just get close enough...
Over the years our robot explorers have beamed back images of the frozen surface of Saturn's moon Titan and many other wonders. In just one year we'll learn what another world looks like.
For every new vista that opens, our frontier recedes. There are now more worlds that we are just beginning to imagine. One cold January night in 2007 I captured an image of a star a few months after the announcement that a world had been discovered there. When I look at this picture I "see" much more than a small white dot.
|A world orbits the star WASP-1|
I still have the faded Boston Globe that was delivered to my parent's house so many years ago framed and hanging in my office.
|"MAN WALKS ON MOON"|
Boston Globe, July 21, 1969
"Two men from the planet Earth landed on the surface of the Moon at 4.17.45 E.D.T., Sunday, July 20, 1969."
"It brought the dawn of a new era in the evolution of man."