As somebody famous once said, we are the pale blue dot. From far enough away, invisible. Insignificant. Tiny. An isolated speck in an isolationist universe. In the cold mountain air, I found the stars had an extra sharpness at night. Humans can go so far in that darkness, but it is laughably close on the grand scale of galaxies. Here’s a peek into the great universe, as taken by me in Austria:

Our satellite, our companion.
©rq, all rights reserved.

My favourite constellation, Orion. We call it the Hunter here, and I wonder if its variety of names is as diverse as that of the Big Dipper?
©rq, all rights reserved.

But as much as I want to be just excited about another scientific and technological achievement, it’s hard to disconnect from the news today. Humans can be so selfish, and inconsiderate, and greedy, and destructive. Anyway, here’s Muriel Rukeyser back in 1968:

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.
I lived in the first century of these wars.

It appears to be the second century of these wars. And the universe goes on and will go on without us, because humans are just that important. I just wish we could be selfish enough to consider mutual survival.


  1. dakotagreasemonkey says

    Orion is one of my favorite constellations. Many mornings, before sunrise, He travels with me to my workplace. Visible out the top of my driver side window, He only fades a bit when Luna is shining bright.
    Beautiful photographs!

  2. Jazzlet says

    Orion in the southern sky means autumn to me. I lived one year in a terrace house where we only used the back door, accessed by a passage, and Orion would greet you as you came out into the yard. Here our back door faces south so I see him as he rises. If I’m going with a song it’s Jethro Tull’s Orion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40coItA-EJY

  3. voyager says

    Gorgeous, rq. I love night skies. We have a fair amount of light pollution here (between Toronto and Windsor), but when we’re down east the sky just pops with stars.
    Thanks also for the poem. It’s hard to believe that was written in 1968. It’s so relevant to today, especially the part about multiple devices. Quite prescient.

  4. rq says

    Orion is the first constellation I learned to identify. I only learned the Big Dipper in… end of high school? but I knew Orion since I can pretty much remember -- because of his belt, my dad taught that one to all of us. It always makes me think of winter. Back in high school I wrote a terrible poem about wandering about in the deep wintertime, howling at the moon and following Orion; sometimes I still feel that way.

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