Keeping in Touch with the Universe

Because of trees, other houses, and the slope of the land, it’s not easy to keep in touch with the universe from our house, but still possible. In the upstairs hallway there’s an octagonal window facing west through which, by the time it got dark last evening, Venus shone with dazzling luminosity. This morning, it was still dark when I got up, and Venus had been replaced by Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Venus, right now, is about fifty million miles away. Sirius is about fifty million million miles away. I used to live in a house where I could look up from the deck and see the Andromeda galaxy, which is about fifteen million, million, million miles away. Astronomers think of it as local.