Of course, this extends to nightfall. When the sun disappears below the horizon all I see in the window is my own reflection from wherever I’m looking at the window from. Not only that, but my entire room, just another place qualifying as “inside”. There’s not much for me anyway: there’s too many clouds, there’s nowhere to see it from and as I said, it’s cold anyway. When the rare opportunity is presented to me, I look up, be it walking home through streetlights or spending some of my time in the garden on a visit to somebody’s house.
The moon shows itself around midday but the stars, I can never see the stars. There are too many of them. The blackness as I look up seems to envelop them. If I paid attention, I’d feel isolated. I’d feel bound to this world. But when I really get my mind into gear and look up, I see what’s there instead, with human eyes still, but I see what I see; the galaxy. Of course, that might just be giving me false hope – many of these stars might just have gone supernova, gone cold or suffered any number of horrible fates a celestial body could suffer. That’s not what I see, though. I see them doing what main sequence stars do. (They shine, they fuse hydrogen. It sounds boring but even nuclear fusion itself is pretty interesting. On an aesthetic level it is too.)
Occasionally one catches the corner of my eye. I never thought something among so many others could do that, but they seem to be brighter than others. I like to wonder whether it’s a star close by or whether it’s a star of unimaginable size hidden away out there somewhere. (Our sun is of course big, but you should see some of the others out there…it’s one of the few times I’ve actively been made to feel small.) Who knows, maybe that one is VY Canis Majoris, nearing the end of its life. I’m not sure if I can see that but I know that even near the end this star might outlive humanity. Or maybe it’s Wolf 359, or Betelgeuse…but I always think about VY Canis Majoris. I don’t know why I feel so strongly about a star but it’s always the one to remind me that even if there are others out there in the universe, we are still alone (and somewhat small to boot).
If there are other civilisations out there (or were out there) I hope that they also think about whether there’s anyone else out there. There was one quote that gets me: “If you ever look at the sky, doubting the existence of other worlds, just know that somewhere a creature looks up at its sky, doubting you.” That one’s from…Welcome to Night Vale. (I don’t pay much attention to that nor its fanbase but sometimes you don’t have to be part of something to appreciate it.) I just hope that one day, when humanity meets its end, the universe and any possible civilisations out there will know we existed. There has to be some other things out there. Maybe they’ve been and gone. But it just doesn’t seem right that of all this, the only possibly life could be on some planet in a tiny solar system at the edge of some galaxy in an ever-expanding universe. Maybe some of them do exist. Perhaps some of them look into whatever they have as telescopes, sights trained on us. Do they see early life? Do they see the aftereffects of the moon colliding with the Earth? I rarely wish for miracles but if I were to wish upon a star, I’d wish for someone else out there. A planet with life around that star.
Even if I feel small, those stars are small to me. But I only need to think about them for them to stop seeming small. Everything in that night sky; it has quirks of its own, maybe orbiting planets, maybe it holds a record among the stars in human records. (Humanity can’t last forever, although it will definitely try.) I refuse to believe that of all of that, there is nothing interesting.