Day 35: Mike, Science Teacher in the Upper School

[ By on October 26, 2012 ]

Last night I had to cancel the evening observing I had scheduled for my astronomy class. This is a common occurrence when teaching astronomy during the rainy season. This time it made me think about how hard it is to see the stars, particularly in New York City. I talk about the stars every day and I have been trained as an astronomer, so I think I have a reasonably intimate relationship with the universe, but I find that I miss seeing the stars. I have lived in New Mexico and the mountains of California and became accustomed to being able to walk outside on a clear night and look around our neighborhood of the universe. When I taught in a more rural environment, I often encountered students from New York City who were struck dumb with awe to behold the sky they had never seen. I now have a similar sense when I am outside the city on a clear night. I just stand wide-eyed staring up. It seems to me a shame to be lose my every-day connection with the stars. Of course, the building blocks of every molecule on Earth were forged in the interior of ancient stars which seeded the formation of our own solar system with their violent deaths. We were made by the stars and I feel comforted by being able to see them often. I have gone to the High Line on a Tuesday evening and looked through the telescopes set up there. That helps, but it isn’t the same as a moonless desert sky with thousands of stars visible and the Milky Way spread across the sky. There has to be a way to renew our connection with the stars, even in New York City. The stars you can see in the sky on a dark night are really our neighbors in the Universe. Appreciating the scale of what I can see at night helps me have a healthy perspective on the scale of the issues I deal with during the day. My problems aren’t so great and neither are my accomplishments against the backdrop of the stars.

Mike teaches physics and astronomy and also enjoys riding his bike around the city.

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One Comment on “Day 35: Mike, Science Teacher in the Upper School”

  1. gtucker

    Beautiful words, Mike!! Great thoughts, too. I am wondering of course if you got a glimpse of the stars from a darkened Manhattan last week. Sometimes one gets what one wishes for–oh boy!!

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