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.
Happy Birthday To Me!