It wasn’t until I was about twelve years old that the concept of space truly hit me. My sister had picked me up from a rehearsal or perhaps a music lesson, and we were on our way home. We were cresting a hill on a street that we had ridden on hundreds of time, and dusk was approaching. As we came to the top I remember my heart started racing as the last hour of sunlight lit the sky, and I was finally able to comprehend the roundness of the Earth. It could have been a trick of the light, but when I looked out, the clouds were mimicking the curve of the land underneath. It was that moment I fully realized I live on tiny rock encased in a relatively thin bubble of air. I tried to express my wonderment to my sister, and her response was typical for her at the time – “Yeah, didn’t you already know that?”
It wouldn’t be until nine years later that something in the sky shook me like this. I was in college, and it was one of those nights I could sit on the front porch late into the evening. This time when I looked up, I saw the moon – a crescent that was showing only a sliver of light. It was different this time however because I was able to make out the round shadow of the rest of its form. It was dark, but not as dark as the rest of the sky. It was like looking at a chiaroscuro drawing of a ball. It hung perfectly round like a sphere on a canvas; I felt like I could reach out and roll it.
But I couldn’t.
I’d always had an interest in math and science. I knew of the concepts of general relativity. I understood the physics of why we didn’t spin right of the face of this planet. Logically I knew this particular ball was massive and cold – a huge rock thousands of miles away reflecting light from the sun. But that night, it took on a form and it took up a space and it became real. My mind went from enthralled, to confused, to frightened. I was not ready for it to become because knowing what it was, what it was made of, and how fast it was moving simply couldn’t match up to what I was perceiving as it inched along in the night sky.
Image of super moon on November 13, 2016
Composite image shot with Canon 6D | EF 70-200mm f/4L USM