Why Should People Care about Seeing the Milky Way?

If you look out to the night sky, it’s very easy to focus on the planets. It’s easy to get taken in by the beauty of the moon. It’s also fairly easy to be in awe of the natural world. You look up at the sky, and it looks like a black, dark, and rich blanket; even velvety, stretching forever. There is one part of the scene that truly helps people explore their sense of meaning and possibility; not just in the world, but in the galaxy.

When you look to the stars, you would see parts of the Milky Way. This is the section of the universe that we live in. The Milky Way is our home galaxy. It’s composed of lots and lots of stars. According to a recent count, it has over 200 billion stars. Think about that for a second.

Looking at the sun, it’s easy to think that we are the center of the universe. We have this sun that rises and sets like clockwork. Everything in our lives and in the natural world seems to flow from the schedule of the sun.

It’s too easy to believe that we are the only intelligent creatures in the universe. But, you only need to look at the Milky Way, just one galaxy among the billions of galaxies in the universe, to get an understanding of where we are. We are nothing special; in the Milky Way alone, there are over 200 billion stars.

In our solar system, we have one sun and eight planets, give or take Pluto. Here we are with all our drama, cares, worries, dreams, and hopes. But, we’re only one of 200 billion stars. When you look at the Milky Way, it’s just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. This should unlock tremendous sense of possibility. Because regardless of how seemingly meaningless our existence may be, given the great amount of distance and huge number of stars out there, the ability to even witness all of these should give people a reason to celebrate. By looking at the Milky Way, we are looking at the fingerprint of the process that created everything.

The Milky Way is dusty and glassy. These are exactly the characteristics of the majority of the galaxies out there. We are all made up of stardust. You can’t help feeling connected, seeing the unifying thread among everything that exists within the universe. Whether we’re talking about animate and inanimate objects or sentient and non-sentient beings, it cannot be denied that the same process unites us. We are ultimately made of the same stuff.

Instead of feeling small, inconsequential, insignificant, and meaningless, looking at the Milky Way gives us hope. It gives us a clear perspective or framework of where we stand, as far as everything else is concerned. While it’s too easy to focus on negative interpretations like, meaninglessness and feeling small, there is also a great lesson that we can learn if we choose to do so.

We are not all that different. We are one and alike because we all come from the same cosmic process. We were all birthed from the same universal womb, so to speak. There’s a lot going on in the Milky Way, and it blows the mind. These different galactic facts have very broad implications; not just philosophically, but personally. Let’s examine some of them.

The Milky Way is almost the same age as the universe

According to scientists, the universe was created through a big-bang explosion. One second nothing existed, another second everything existed; and it continues to expand. It’s as if there is this big white flash and then everything zoomed into existence at a really rapid rate. When we look at the Milky Way and ponder its age, we get closer to that point of creation because our spot in the universe is almost the same age as the rest of the universe. If that doesn’t make you feel connected to creation, I don’t know what will.

The Milky Way galaxy is fast-moving

Another key lesson the Milky Way teaches people is that as static as our existence may seem, we’re actually moving really fast. While reading this blog post, you may be thinking that everything is settled and fixed, don’t fool yourself. Not only is the world spinning at a ridiculously rapid rate; the Earth, as part of the solar system, is moving; and the solar system, as part of the Milky Way, is also moving at a really fast rate.

Everything is relative. I need you to focus on that central fact. It’s easy to get caught up in our internal drama. It’s easy to reinvent the truths about the universe based on our very limited perception. From our eyes, everything is static; everything is small. However, when we look at galactic reality, as far as the Milky Way is set up and how it behaves; it’s moving really fast. Again, this can be a source of hope because things are never as static as they seem.

Our galaxy is eating other galaxies

Believe it or not, the Milky Way is eating other galaxies. This may seem distressing, but it should actually be calming. The great, deep, and fundamental human fear is death. We feel that, as fun as life may be, there’s always the end; and most people are afraid of endings. We’d like the party to go on forever. If there is anything reassuring from the fact that our Milky Way is constantly consuming other galaxies through an endless series of collisions, it is the fact that there is such a thing as reinvention and recreation.

Just as galaxies collide with extreme violence and releases of energy, there is also a creation during that process. By wrapping our minds around that concept, we can be at peace with death. We would know that when we die, life goes on. We don’t have to believe in reincarnation to get some measure of reassurance from the fact that you are part of this greater galactic process of death and rebirth.

There is continuity. Just as you are made from your most minuscule DNA of stardust, you can rest assured that the greatest and brightest heavenly bodies are also made of the same stuff. This sense of identity and continuity is the stuff of infinity.