The night sky – and spacetime

From Russia, to the Welsh hills, and a retreat last week.

Up at 5, cup of tea in hand I’d stepped out and looked up, expecting cloud and drizzle, and …the stars were bright, the quieter stars of summer evenings (the stars of course roll right around the heavens once a year) which give a first showing to early risers in February and March. Long gone are Orion and the twins and the lion, it’s now the swan and the lyre rising up from the east, and the huntsman, Bootes, above, and Arcturus, no longer an evening announcement of spring, but in its full glory on a February morning.

The sky almost floats above you, pre-dawn just touching the hills.

Anything but floating…

Reading Philip Ball on the general theory of relativity (100 years this year since Einstein presented his paper on the subject) my usual puzzlement is just a little allayed by his comment that ‘Isaac Newton’s apple fell to Earth because it was, in effect, sloping down the slope of the dent that the planet’s mass induces in the fabric of spacetime’. Which means that it’s not gravity as an an invisible force holding me to Earth, rather I’m slipping down a dent in the fabric of spacetime.

This rather changes my way of thinking about things…

But my sense of wonder at the night sky, which first took a hold of me when I was eight-years-old, remains as it always was, and a spiritual sense is still a part of that wonder. I touch the Earth and the hand of God.

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