In our locked down, locked in world, turned away from each other and contemplating no further than the following day, one great horizon stills call to our imagination. Space.
Such wonders are here, created by forces we still barely understand. Space telescopes show us interstellar nebula from incalculable distance and incompressible size. We chase comets and explore asteroids. Probes climb far distant mountains, roam ancient deserts, circle moons and planets once invisible to the human eye.
Much of what we see is actually a window through time, the light from millions of years ago, when our Earth was still a place of dinosaurs and primeval forests. Stars are born, as others die in the universe’s eternal cycle of life. This is a terrible, awesome beauty, a reminder of our insignificance but also the unquenchable human spirit.
The search for answers has not been easy. Rockets explode, probes crash, machines fail. Sometimes, tragically, lives have been lost. But the quest goes on. Last week a prototype of Starship, the spacecraft SpaceX is building to fly people to Mars, exploded in flames in a test landing.
This is the second failed attempt in only two months. But a third Starship is already on the launchpad. That may also fail. So the SpaceX founder Elon Musk will try again, until he succeeds.
Our adventures into space have shown us the majesty of creation, but also taught us something about ourselves.
"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty," Vincent Van Gogh, painter of The Starry Night, wrote to his brother in 1888.
“But the sight of the stars makes me dream.”