Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Cautiously Optimistic

Once in a while, Rizal Technological University’s Astronomy Society (RTU-AstroSoc) holds community outreaches to spread awareness about the wonders of astronomy to the people. Students leave the confines of their classrooms to the wilderness that is the public and speak to those who want to listen.
There is every reason to believe that community outreaches work. The objective is noble, the topics interesting, the people engaging—Every activity is rooted to the good will of sharing the beauty of astronomy to the world, no matter no matter if that part is big or small. To the success of each outreach, I laud RTU-AstroSoc and the DESS family in general for their support and dedication…
…And yet.
There is, of course, only so much that the students can do. To the sheltered Filipino, astronomy is something completely different; students taking a Bachelor’s degree in an astronomy-centered field are of sheer novelty. And while the exact intention of an outreach is spreading the awareness and presence of a very much active astronomy student community to the people, it is not unimaginable that even with all the efforts placed on every event everything is just not quite enough. But maybe this is being rather cynical of me.
And so, a cautious sort of optimism settles. There is, after all, so much left to see; there are still so many people to reach and talk to, for the sake of letting astronomy become more well-known and welcomed into quiet communities and curious people. If the curiosity is willing to be pleased, there are students who are more than ready to please.

Song for the Stars

Eric Idle once sang a song: The Galaxy Song, in The Meaning of Life. The tune is catchy enough, like “Pop goes the weasel!” However, true to the comedy troupe’s inclination to the absurd, the scene where Idle sang the Galaxy Song tended to the obscene (no joke: beware!), and said absolutely nothing about the meaning of life (unless one is inclined to think about it, and maybe with a few mental flips in the process, something might come from analyzing the song). Suffice to say, the song became a quick favorite: even Stephen Hawking gave the song a shot, and sang it. The factual tidbits spilled in Galaxy Song are inaccurate by present times, though.
Astronomy-inspired music is rather rare. People did songs about stars, of course (Javert, anyone?), the Sun, Jupiter… But they are laced with romantic sentiments to make them more human, to let the audience truly connect to the hyperbole of the emotions expressed by the song. Talking about the magnificence of the cosmos, serenading the stars by judging their brilliance and declaring them to be something of importance, teasing the beginning of everything by way of melody, unbarred by romance— Now, those are exceptional indeed.
In here, it would not be unusual to beg to differ: The cynic said that not everyone, of course, has the same tastes and preferences in music. That is true, but the scant amount of musical work dedicated to space itself, to everything that astronomy encompasses and holds dear, still stands to the point.
Why the fervor for music that describes the cosmos? For the same reason we compose arias, ballads, sonatas, and all the other forms of music that ever graced humanity’s ears: Sentiment. Only this time, awe soars high and topples romance from its seat in the heavens.

Are we alone in the universe?

Our body is made up of Hydrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen. So does the Earth -The sun, our solar system, and the universe. We can technically argue that we are part of the universe and the universe is in fact living inside us.
The universe started from singularity. A single point, born out of the remnants of interstellar dust and rocks, collapsed by gravity, shaped by heat, and then expanded towards the unknown. The Big Bang as we call it. If we could visualise it, everything came from one single point. The single point from which we were all created from. There are trillions of stars out there. Billions of planetary systems like ours, and thousands of Earth-like planets. All we have to do is explore the galaxy and find by all means, another system that works in parallel like ours.
Moreover, our bodies contain DNA. An element which is connected to our very first ancestors. We can say that we’ve touched all of our ancestors with our DNA. The idea of being a part of a whole is what makes us individuals special. We are different from each other, yet we came from the same spectacle.
The thought of presuming that there is life out there fuels our drive to just wonder what miracles life has yet to offer. Because we are not alone, we never were, and we never will be.