What is that in the Sky?

Lizzie Andrews, one of our interns, offers this contribution to the NDQ blog in the lead up to our next issue dedicated to Arts and Sciences.

You know the saying “staring into space?” Usually people take it to mean that someone is out of it or not paying attention. Recently, I think that the whole of society’s attention rests in space. If anyone pays attention to social media or nightly news, you can bet that there will be an article or a post about something mind-blowing happening in the cosmos, most recently being water on Mars.

Reminiscing to a couple weeks ago, there was the night of the blood moon. I had the apartment to myself. I was reading a book for enjoyment and not classes, and I was cooking dinner. It was a cool night with a clear sky, so I had my sliding door open with the shades pulled to the side. I was planning on just glancing to the sky every once and a while to watch the eclipse because, if I am being honest, I was not that interested in it. Low and behold, at 8pm, I get a call from my father, from 300 miles away mind you, telling me that I had better get outside and look at the moon. Being the good daughter that I am, I listened to him and went to my balcony. I had the perfect view of the moon and at that point, about half of it was covered by shadows. Much to my surprise I found it beautiful and majestic. It surpassed my expectations that all I would see would be the everyday moon disappearing.

Throughout my life, I have never held a fascination for space. In fact, it actually scared me because of the vastness and how little is actually known about it. However, the world I live in does not let me avoid it, especially now. Just by making a trip to my local RedBox or Netflix account, I am bombarded by sights and stories that revolve around outer space.

I’ve come to wonder why exactly people have become so enthralled by the idea of space and the exploration. My current answer is that it is nothing new. People of the world have always pondered what exactly thrives and occurs among the stars. Galileo gave his life to finding out how our solar system works. Directors, producers, and writers have taken to this idea of “the last frontier” and run with it. Lucky for them, it has been successful. Gravity seems to have started this blockbuster trend, followed by Interstellar and The Martian. I think the theme of space goes much farther back than just 2013. If you look at Avatar or The Avengers, both of them revolve around galaxies far away from our own. Albeit, these two films are less scientifically based than the three previously mentioned; they all do take on the idea that information beyond human comprehension exists beyond earth.

Years and years ago, people used art and literature to speak of their findings on space and now these new discoveries can be more public and more widespread because of the internet and media sources. Once they gain popularity, they can be franchised into television shows and yes, multi-million dollar movies. What I find most interesting about Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian is that the creators and directors spoke with scientists about everything within the movie. They tried to make sure that what they were producing was somewhat plausible, unlike the superhero movies. Interstellar even had a physicist create a new mockup image of what black holes look like.

The reality of what I’m looking at terrifies me, but it also seems beautiful. I am able to understand why people spend lifetimes studying it and speaking about it. It’s a more realistic fantasy world. When I was looking at the blood moon that night, I just stared in awe and wonder. I wanted to be able to take a quality picture of it so I could hold onto that moment forever. I wished I had the artistic talent to paint or draw what I was seeing and feeling, but alas, I had to allow the real artists and photographers to do that for me, just as they have been for the last 2,000 years.

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