If there is one thing that the average reader should gain from this column, it would be an immense awe and respect for the universe. While Earth is not at the direct center of the universe as was once thought by scientists and philosophers of the past, it holds a tremendous and fantastic role in the cosmos. Despite the vast amount of planets that have been identified, so far few, if any, hold the niche that this marvelous sphere of rock and water holds. Sure, the planet is not all that special, other places have water, other places likely have life, and other places have huge billowy clouds and dramatic sunsets, but this week’s focus is under our feet.
While different organizations define the boundary of Earth and space as a variety of different altitudes, the truth is that Earth is already a part of space. The Earth interacts with other planets and from a far distance, looks just like the other dots in the sky, if not a little bit more blue. Just like the other planets and bodies within the Solar System, our magnificent home formed from the dust and gas that was a byproduct of the formation of the Sun. There has been input from other stellar explosions that seeded our early nebula with heavy elements; our planet itself was likely seeded with water by means of comets and other impacts.
The beauty of Earth arguably exists in its fragility. It might only take one major impact to transform the veritable garden planet into a rocky void like Mars or a few millenia of pollution to begin the path to a hot and inhabitable Venus. As a species, it should be a high priority to take care of this planet.
Due to the planet’s interactions with stellar phenomena, the Earth is more than ideal for stargazing upon. Our thick atmosphere lights up objects as they enter, creating a beautiful show of shooting stars on any given night. When the magnetic field and atmosphere interact with solar radiation, magnificent auroras that can be more awe-inspiring than any other feature in the sky are quite unique. Other notable objects include beautiful clouds, amazing lightning, volcanoes, snow-capped peaks, vast canyon systems, lush rain forests, and so much more. Humans are truly lucky to have so much on this fragile pale blue dot.
May the stars shine brightly in your skies.