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I can see for miles and miles

Sitting outside on a beautiful, sunny September afternoon in Connecticut last week, I was idly appreciating the late summer surroundings and counting my blessings. I looked around at the green grass, the trees at the apex of their bloom, on the threshold of transitioning to their fabulous, fall finery. I glanced above them, up at the blue sky, puffy white clouds and bright shining sun.

And I was suddenly stunned out of my reverie into real time, real science.

I can see for 93 million miles!! So can you.

In fact, we humans can see much farther than that. The farthest thing we can see with the naked eye (and we can even see so much more with aids like telescopes or, if you want to go in the other direction, an electron microscope) is the Andromeda Galaxy, also called M31. M31 is 2.5 million light years away from us. Two and a half MILLION LIGHT-years!

A light-year, for those who are rusty on their eighth grade science, is a unit of measurement equal to the distance that it takes light to travel one year. It a long way, a light-year is, since light travels at 186,00 miles per second. A light-YEAR is 5.88 trillion miles. Yeah. And you can see the Andromeda Galaxy that is two and a half million times THAT many miles away. Let that sink in. If you can. Mind-blowing!

Let me take you back to our own star, with a quick, rough calculation that reveals this fun fact: If you drove from New York City to L.A. on I-80, non-stop, turned around and drove back, non-stop again, and did that again, and again, and again, for 33,288 trips (or 152 years) you would have tit'raveled the distance to the sun from the earth. By the way, that’s one-way; you’d still have to get back. That’s a somewhat more mentally manageable mental exercise, but it’s still pretty crazy to really process.

You didn’t know you had a super power, did you? Well, you do. And even if you start saying stuff to yourself about your bad eyes, or poor vision, or people can’t really do that stuff, all I have to say to you is, “Please! Stop!! Can you see a star? Can you see the sun?”

Enjoy all your super powers this week. Enjoy your surroundings, be mindful of the grass, the trees, the beauty, the sky above. Be grateful for the simple fact of being alive and having choices. It’s your life and you are the star. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Enjoy what you have and what surrounds you.

(And for my contemporaries (and others), I could not help but be reminded of this from a long time ago: turn up the volume and rock out with The Who. Love this song!)


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