It was a freezing cold, dark night, and I was wearing three layers of clothes. Nonetheless, I felt the damp air on my neck. I was with my fellow Galaxy Explorers from Astronomy team at Chabot Space and Science Center. Everyone was excited about tonight. We were going outside of the Center to hike in Redwood Regional Park so we could view stars without light pollution, the bane of any astronomer’s existence. Of course, I was clowning around making bad puns while we walked on a trail, and we all shared some good laughs.
We found a perfect spot where the light was blocked by trees and we could see plenty of eye-grabbing stars. I focused my binoculars on Polaris to calibrate them. Then, we laid down in silence and began looking at the different nebulae and stars. We found the blurry thumbprint, the Andromeda Galaxy. Suddenly, I lost my breath. The beauty was overwhelming. Although I couldn’t see it clearly, it was very bright. Seeing an entire galaxy, alike the one we inhabit, as a faraway smudge, put into perspective just how tiny we all are. I was literally looking at more stars in one small spot of the sky than in our entire galaxy. It tugged at my heart, and I yearned to know; why are we here, why is the universe here? I remember a quote by Carl Sagan, “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” At this moment, I remembered what I found so interesting in astrophysics and space. I want to learn everything I can about astrophysics and the reality of the universe. Since I was a child, I was interested in the unknown. I’d look up at the sky and wonder why the stars were twinkling, or why one blue, another red, which was hotter, which was larger. Now, I spend my time browsing the internet, reading science magazines, and going to museums to satisfy my curiosity.