hoedls haven
Where Nature is the source of all artistic expression

Monday, November 27, 2006

I've often said (but have forgotten myself at times), "If you ever need to gain a greater perspective and appreciation for Life, just look up." Amidst the daily territorial and cultural conflicts we continue to experience on this floating galatic dustball, the Universe continues to reveal to us the grand intentionality and presence of the Almighty.

In mid-October, NASA's Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, sent back images to Earth of a hurricane-like storm (see first photo on right) on Saturn's south pole. This is the first time a storm system such as this has been spotted on another planet. This particular storm measures approximately 5000 miles wide - about 2/3 the diameter of Earth!

Just as amazing, a film recorded by Cassini's camera over a three-hour period reveals winds around Saturn's south pole swirling clockwise at 560 kilometers (350 miles) per hour.

HAT-P-1, the largest planet ever found orbiting another star (see second photo on right), was recently discovered in the constellation Lacerta, about 450 light-years from Earth. This planet, state astronomers, is the largest and least dense of the nearly 200 worlds found outside our solar system - lacking density so much that if it could be put in a cosmic water glass, it would float. It is being termed the "fluffy planet."

Mariner 9 was the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, photographing Mars for nearly a year beginning in late 1971. When the craft arrived at the Red Planet, it sent back thousands of images and one striking view was a mountain of unimaginable proportions: Olympus Mons - a volcano soaring 15 miles above the surface of Mars! The third photo on the right is the first high-resolution picture of the volcano's complete caldera at summit of the Olympus Mons. The caldera itself is two miles wide and spans an area of 63 miles!

Olympus Mons dwarfs the largest terrestrial (Earth) volcano, Mauna Loa, which is just 6 miles high, including the portion of the volcano that extends underwater to the sea floor.

And this is only a minute portion of the ever active and expansive Universe that is occurring in our own backyard, much to our personal unawareness.

Do you want to feel very small? Look to the heavens in the dark of night.

At the same time, do you want to make your own personal concerns seem very small? Look to the heavens as well, and place your concerns on the backdrop of the cosmos.

Now, do you want to feel really connected? Then glance up again at the heavens and know that all you view, including yourself, is made from the same essential ingredients and by the same galatic Chef.

350 mph headwinds or a 15-mile mountain climb has a way of snapping each of us out of our egocentric journey around the Sun.


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