I’m sure I wasn’t the only one abundantly excited when the space probe MESSENGER came back with the first ever pictures of the planet Mercury taken from the planet’s orbit. I’ve been a bit of an astronomy junkie for years now, with all the ups and downs that brings, and I’m always mystified when scientists send us back reports of incredibly bizarre things happening in other parts of our galaxy. My favorite so far is the star known as BPM 37093, a former white dwarf star that caved in on itself a horribly long time ago to become the largest diamond ever discovered. In an infinitely large universe, anything is possible, I suppose.
I first got into astronomy in high school when I took a basic level class that taught the locations of constellations and the myths they were named for, as well as light spectrums, other astral bodies like comet and meteors, and (unfortunately for me) distance. This information has largely seeped out of me over the years to the point where I can identify simple constellations and objects, but the distance… the distance stuck with me.