Writing Assignment: Write About A Star

by Randy Murray on March 28, 2014

The stars are more than pretty lights in the sky. The are the keys to understanding the universe and your place in it.

People just like you and me have looked up and wondered about them for millennia. We have the advantage of all of their wondering, testing, and imagination. We know what these bright lights are. We know how they were born and how they will die. And we know that the light we see has traveled to us for years and years. The secrets of the creation of the universe are out there, among the stars.

But do you really know that? You can repeat the fact, but do you understand what that means? The light from Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to our friendly Sol, has been traveling just four and a half years to brighten your night sky. That doesn’t seem like so long, does it? If we were to build a starship with what we know and can do today and launch it towards Alpha Centauri it would take tens of thousands of years to get there. Four and a half light years is a great, almost unimaginable distance. And that’s to our nearest neighbor. Not exactly Star Trek, is it?

Other stars, twinkling there before us, are much, much farther away. The light we see from them has been on its way to us for thousands of years. All of what we see in the night sky is a massive time-travel event, displayed before us on the greatest screen in the biggest theater.

The stars are distant, maybe unreachably so. But, to contemplate this, to look, see, and to think about this, can start us on a different journey, a journey where we begin to understand the universe a bit better, and maybe, just maybe, our place in it.

For today’s assignment, step outside into the night, if you can, and look up. Pick out a star, any star, if the sky permits, and observe it for a few minutes. Breathe. Relax. And then, ponder about what you’re seeing. Note that you are looking deep into the past. Let your imagination soar with this knowledge.

And then, when you are ready, return and write about what you’ve witnessed and what you’ve imagined. Write about both, the star you’ve seen and the things you’ve imagined.

For bonus points, identify the star you’ve selected and look up its name or designation and discover how far the light has traveled and when the light you witnessed left that distant place. Use this new information to rewrite what you originally created in new, fresh detail and imagination.



Writing Assignment: Write About A Star by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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