by Tavi Greiner



Have you ever bounced through the powdery gray dust of the Moon or plodded across the rusty red sand of Mars? Have you ever splashed in the methane lakes of Titan, or skated along the fractured icy crust of Europa? Have you ever danced in the cold geysers of Enceladus?

Perhaps you’re into more exotic experiences, like trying to fly a kite in the super-fast winds around the Crab Nebula. Maybe you’ve ventured even further, out beyond our own galaxy, to meander through the entangled streams of the colliding Mice Galaxies.

I’ve experienced all these things, and more, including the wonderful weirdness of our own planet, as though I were a visitor looking in from afar. I’ve even been out to the beginning of “time,” when the Universe was just gasping its first breaths, long before our planet ever existed.

Each time that I look up into the night sky, I’m not simply admiring the twinkling lights of distant stars or the ashen glow of Earthshine on the Moon. I’m doing much more than looking - I’m scaling the distances and embracing the science. I’m inhaling, hearing, tasting, and feeling. I’m imagining each and every world as I’ve learned it to be. I’m leaving this one space that I know and understand, to explore the mysterious realms of the Space that I’ll never actually touch.

For me, loving the night sky is much more than a fascination with Spaceflight or a love affair with celestial displays. It is a journey through creation – an expedition into the very nature of what makes us, and everything around us, who and what we are. It is a voyage into the Past, Present, and Future – and a passage through Space and Time and Life and Death.

Drifting into the dream of Space is not difficult. With all the new discoveries by our Space programs, and all the sharing by astronomers, science writers, and enthusiasts, it’s really easy to imagine the grandeur and strangeness of the Universe.  In fact, there are so many readily-available resources, it’s hard not to lose yourself in the stars.

Consider, for example, with all of its images and descriptions – a collection that includes planets, nebulae, galaxies, and stars. Nearly all of Hubble’s images offer an immediate immersion into the wonders of Space. So, too, do the many features on both the NASA and ESA websites. You can even wander around to the “farside” of the Sun with NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes, or simply watch for solar eruptions on the nearside, in real time, with the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Then there are the Space news websites, like UniverseToday, DiscoverySpace, and BadAstronomer - each with regular articles to keep us updated and help us better understand the complexities of Space. Personal astronomy blogs and social media streams, like David Dickinson’s AstroGuyz or Daniel Fischer’s @Cosmos4U, are another great way to delve into deep Space.

Not much of a reader? Tune-in to AFM*Radio, where you can listen to Space Science podcasts and programs 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. You can even visit the chatroom during live broadcasts to have your questions answered by professional astronomers.

If you like getting right into the middle of things, check out CosmoQuest and Zooniverse, where you can make real contributions to science with hands-on activities that include mapping an asteroid, discovering distant planets, and charting stars!

Of course, we can’t forget a “real” adventure into the stars – that close-up look through a large telescope. Did you know that you can access professional observatories, from the comfort of your home, to image objects like the Eagle Nebula and Omega Centauri? iTelescope and the Sierra Stars Observatory Network both offer pay-as-you-use services, while Harvard and Bradford each allow you to use their telescopes for no charge. If using a “live” telescope intimidates you, there’s the World Wide Telescope, which boasts an extensive collection of images from some of the best telescopes on Earth and in Space. And if seeing is not quite enough, you can listen to the “sounds” of incoming meteors on Spaceweather Radio!

So … the next time that you’re beneath the night sky, do a little more than look up. Dream a little dream of Space. It’s easy, if you try.

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TaviGreinerTavi Greiner is an amateur astronomer who devotes much of her time to outreach. She is a former program manager and radio host for, a co-founding member of Astronomy.FM, and co-founder and co-host of A Sky Full of Stars Astronomy Productions. Tavi also writes a weekly night sky column for a local newspaper and occasionally hosts events at her local planetarium.


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