To listen to this post, click here –
On this day in 1889 the American astronomer Edwin Hubble was born. A keen sportsman, Hubble saw combat duty in the First World War. He moved with his family to California, where he took part in the pioneering work at the observatories at Mount Wilson and Mount Palomar. At his death, no funeral was held for him, and his wife never revealed his burial site.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and still remains in operation. Its orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images with almost no background light, allowing a deep view into space and time. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.
Today’s poem is the empowering and faith-filled poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! Bright wings.
Today I give thanks for the grandeur of the universe and its vast unknown spaces. As Pascal said: “Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie” (The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me).