In 1 Anahulu (10 days), I will ‘turn’ 51, meaning I have begun my second half-century. Riding this whorling blue ball we call Earth with several billion others (and a handfull of billionaires) is sometimes maddening, and sometimes stupendous beyond words, but in truth, I hope fpr several centuries more.
For all the planets ‘Exo-Astronomers’ keep discovering, this is indeed, my favorite world of all.
A year is defined as the period of time it takes for our planet to make one full orbit around our central Sun, meaning I have been riding for 50 laps ‘around’ the Sun, and I am about to start my second 50. But is this really an accurate picture of things?
For centuries many leading European thinkers held the Earth was the center of the Universe, and the Sun, as well as all the other stars in our nightime sky, revolved around the Earth, a uniquely fixed point in space, perhaps held there in the lovng hand of God. But, even Copernicus’ Heliocentric upgrade to our solar system still retained a certain rigidity of thinking. If his model decentered the Earth, still his central Sun was fixed, yet still the Catholic Church was pissed. Go figure.
Back in the 20th Century, when I was a kid (I am still a kid) it was explained to me our solar system was kinda like a phonograph (a what?), the grooves in the record and the relatively flat plane of the planets, an analogy for the myriad orbits of so many things all revolving to some kind of majestic celestial music reverberated in space.
Well, like so many things, it turns out it ain’t so. In space, no one can hear you scream, and the way our planets careen thru space is less like a record (what are those again?), and more like a cosmic corkscrew.
Our Sun has not been motionless this whole time, it’s been bobbing and weaving thru the plane of the Milly Way, which in turn wheels around a bewildering beehive of black-holes at the center At the speed of ao (light), photons emitted when I was born, could have just about made it there and back again, just im time for my upcoming birthday!
Of course, neither our galaxy (on a rendezvous with Andromeda) nor the dark and mysteriously massive ‘Local Group’ of which we are all members are standing still. Nope! All of us in this region of the Universe rush madly towards some unknown, but evidently profoundly massive ‘Great Attractor’.
Bearing all this in mind, as I pop a cork and make a toast to time and tide, and the miracle of life we are blessed to behold, I raise my glass to celebrate the incredible corkscrew of our solar system, careening madly at blippity-bop-thousand miles an hour, dragging the You, Me, and the whole solar system in it’s gravitational wake. like so many peeping chicks just trying to keep up in a mad dash across the universe.
Mauna a Wakea – “Mauna Kea kuahiwi kū ha‘o i ka mālie”
“Maunakea, the astonishing mountain that stands in the calm.”
One million years ago, thru a rift in the pacific plate that had already created an archipelago several thousand miles in it’s wake, a new plume of magma arose from our planet’s molten interior creating Mokuokeave, aka the Big Island of Hawai`i. Today, at over 200 km in diameter, and 10 km from base to lofty summit, together the cluster of volcanoes that make up the ʻBig Islandʻ of Hawai`i; Mahukona, Kohala, Hualalai, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Kilauea & Loihi is the tallest and most massive mountain on Earth.
Nearly a mile taller than Everest – and still growing – this 34,000 feet pinnacle (twenty thousand feet below the sea, and fourteen above to it’s tropical-yet-perpetually-snow-clad summit) Mauna Kea (kea meaning ‘white’ in Hawaiian), soars above 40% of the Earth’s atmosphere. Here, the air is so rarified, and still, stars don’t just sparkle, they shine.
Surrounded by the vast expanse of the largest open body of water in our solar system – the Pacific Ocean – and carressed by the light- and pollution-free smooth laminar flows of an unimpeded, desiccated, and attenuated atmosphere, as well as a tropical location that affords views of 90% of the entire sky, Western Science has finally been able to confirm from observational data over the last four decades, that the Summit of Mauna Kea is far and away the most stellar location on Earth from which to view the heavens. But then, the Hawaiian people have known this for more than 1,000 years.
The numbers themselves are mind-boggling, but hardly tell the tale. The crown of this mountain is held by the Polynesians as the umbilicus or piko, the point of origin, place of first contact between Earth Mother Papa, and Sky Father Wakea. The place where heaven and earth first came together to create lofe on this world. The fuller name of Mauna Kea is Mauna a Wakea; Wakea’s Mountain.
Even on our staggeringly serene blue planet, just exactly the right distance from a stable middle-aged yellow star, it would be difficult to discover a place even remotely so magical as the Hawaiian Islands, a string of tropical volcanic islands, surrounded by thousands of miles of salt water, deluged with rain, and bursting with ecological vitality. Even after more than a century of debautched euroamerican capitalism and cultural pillaging, the incredible mana (power) and beauty of this place still takes your breath away. Heaven on earth? It sure can be, if we simply Malama honua — take care of the earth, and for more than one thousand years, Hawaiians have been doing just that.
What does it mean to You to be alive? Not abstractly, or ʻat this tme in history,ʻ but right at this very moment; I kēia manawa, right now.
Time is so precious, and the world we revolve upon so staggeringly magical, it almost blows the monkey mind. Take Trump, for example. Blown.
But seriously, Trumpity-bump-in-the-road asside, there are so many hyuuuge questions about the Universe we find ourselves within. How did it all begin? Where do we come from? What is the name of this thing or that? How does it all come together? What is time? How can we ascribe a numeric value to this phenomina? Do the parts equal the whole? Are we alone in the universe?
There are so many questions that can be asked, but perhaps it all just boils down to this; Is there anybody out there, and by the way, Universe, do you love me?
The good news is you donʻt need a $1.6 Billion Mega-Telescope to find the answers you seek, for they are all contained within the question, or rather more specifically, the questioner.
Who is asking?
Ponder that for 10 minuke. The answer you arrive upon may well reveal much more about you & your worlview than it does the world, for (I am told) we don’t mostly donʻt see the world as it is, but rather, as we are. As Within; So without.
180 degrees from where the X Files Scully and Molder pretended each week to search, lay the vast interiors of inner universe; our souls. And if you seek, you will fond, for the truth is not “out there.”. The answers are within us all. We are not separate from, nor are we parts of. We are the Universe, and the Universe is Us.
Somehow, inexplicably, We have been blessed with the ability to be episodically aware of the infinite Now. We are aspects of the Universe able to reflect and see ourselves And what an amazing gift the present is.
Just as the void and darkness surrounds and inexplicably entwines & defines us, so too does the light in me see the light in you.
If you were somehow on the Moon looking down on Earth — right now, at this very moment — the dynamically generated image below is roughly what you would see (minus the cloud cover, anyway):
Present View of Earth from the Moon
If you can see your part of the world, the part of the planet where you actually are right now, then the moon is probably visible is in your local sky. But don’t just take my word for it, go outside now, check it and see for yourself. Yes?
What phase is the moon right now?How does it compare to the realtime image of light and shadow on the Earth?Do you notice anything curious?
I don’t know when you are reading this, so I can’t know what phase the moon is on, BUT I do know if your view of the Earth is almost all night, then our kid-sister Moon is almost full. If the face of the Earth is almost entirely illuminated, then the Moon is near new. If the Moon is a crescent, then the Earth is gibbous. If the Moon is waxing, then the Earth is waning, and so on. How can this be?
What is going on?
Because we are two bodies in space illuminated by the same Sun, but viewing each other from opposite angles, the ʻphaseʻ of the Earth is always opposite that of the Moon. Neato, yeah?
Think about it; every New Moon, the Earth is full, and every full Moon, the Earth is NEW. Let that sink in for a minuke or two — a every month, a New Earth!
How cool is that?!!!
For those who insist that things will never change, gosh it turns out there is a silver lining. Every time you look to the sky to find the Moon bright, fat and full, now you know that so too the Earth is New! Again!
If like me, you perhaps find this spirituality uplifting and liberating, we can all thank the heavens for that!