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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I thought that I would provide my reactions and thoughts on the new flavor of the "Cosmos" series, written by Anne Druyan (Carl Sagan's widow) and hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson.
This is in part because I have been an amateur astronomer for about 30 years now.  I generally stargaze with binoculars on clear nights, as my telescope is a cheap one from Walgreens...yes, one day I will have a really good scope, but I have seen comets, star clusters, the Crab Nebula, etc. just in binoculars.

First: the visuals in Cosmos are stunning (and CGI).  The images of the inner and outermost planets were wonderful, especially Saturn and its rings.  The visuals gave a very good sense of how vast our galaxy is, and how many galaxies are out there--each hosting the proverbial "billions and billions" of stars and lord knows how many planets.  It seems silly to use the name "extrasolar" planets, though of course there is a need for that.  We are likely a tiny planetary system in the broad range of this scintillatingly mysterious universe.  This boggles the mind with that old chestnut of a question: are we the only ones who live on an inhabitable planet?  If so, we are even more responsible to take care of what Sagan described as "the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

I for one don't believe we are alone. I think worlds exist out there with life--but whether that life has the technology or desire to come here is still a mystery and may ever be one.

My lone critique of Cosmos is that the "imaginary ship" DGT takes reminds me at times of a chrome tadpole.  That's fine--the whole "imaginary spaceship" thing also reminds me of Mr. Rogers going to The Land of Make-Believe via the red trolley, but that is just fine with me.

In times of my worse stresses and loss, I have always resorted to a few hours of stargazing at night.  I cannot cry and grieve when my mind is focused on the stars.  Stargazing is literally looking back in time, and opens my heart to awe and reverence, and of course wonder.

I hope that the new Cosmos instills wonder in its audience, for achieving a sense of wonder also means an increase in hope and reverence for our own small world.