cassiopeiaThis cylinder with precisely aligned mirrors is like a magic portal into another universe. I close one eye while I peer through the eyepiece, seeing light that has traveled years to greet me on this summer evening. I can still hear Grandpa Will’s voice sharing that fact with me as a nine year old girl. It has stuck with me for decades. Even though I have access to the most advanced deep sky observation equipment that research money can buy, I still pull out this little telescope on occasion to reminisce.

“Sweetpea, what’s a four letter word for portal?”

Grandpa was the crossword master. I knew he already knew the answer, but I’d play along. This was our special time together each evening in the living room.

“That one’s easy, Grandpa. Door.”

“Ahh, of course,” he’d say.

I’d sit curled up beside the radio, positive there was someone inside speaking to me. Between segments of my favorite show, Starwatch, Grandpa fed me questions that he knew I’d be able to answer. I was only nine, but not as naïve as he thought.

Tonight’s constellation was Cassiopeia. I’d always been fascinated by the mythology behind the stars. Each night, when the show was over, there was time for pajamas and teeth brushing before heading off to bed. Sometimes, when Grandpa was feeling gracious, he’d let me stay up an extra ten minutes listening to his favorite jazz show together. Tonight was one of those lucky nights.

I rotated the tuning dial. I knew exactly where his program should’ve been. All I could hear, however, was static.

“No stalling, Sweetpea. It’ll only be ten extra minutes no matter how long it takes to find the station.”

I’d used this tactic before, but not tonight. I kept nudging the dial, trying to find the smooth saxophone sounds. I never did find it, but I did hear a voice between the rumbles of static.

“Grandpa, did you hear that?”


“That voice.”

“No, Sweetpea. How about we head out to the backyard and see if we can’t find Cassiopeia?”

We spent the remaining five minutes looking at the distinctive W in the night sky. Grandpa explained how half of the year it was a W, the other half it was an M. I was hooked, but I still couldn’t forget that voice.

I panned towards the stars in Cassiopeia, my heart beginning to flutter. The twinkling was presenting a message in Morse code. My heart beat faster with each letter revealed S-W-E-E-T-P-E-A.

“Ellie, did you find something?” asked Jack, my colleague across the way.

“No. Cassiopeia is just really interesting tonight.”

“Well, let’s get back to it. These new galaxies don’t find themselves,” quipped Jack.

“Yeah, right.” I smiled before taking one more peek through the telescope. The last twinkle to greet my eyes on that evening was like a wink, from my Grandpa Will and Grandma Margaret, somewhere in the middle of Cassiopeia, a galaxy away, but always right next to my heart.

Counting stars

night-skyAstronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another. ~Plato

Gazing into the vast blanket of a night sky, we are treated to a sea of inspiration in the form of light that has been traveling for years to reach us at the very moment we lift our eyes skyward. There is something magical about that revelation. It is a thought that is only able to occupy our consciousness when we choose to look beyond what is visible to our eyes.

Scanning the sky, a bright pinpoint of light settling upon the western horizon pulsates. Like the beacon from a lighthouse, it summons my awareness and I faithfully follow it. As my eyes converge on the eyepiece attached to the telescope, my mind is racing with anticipation. Light is gathered from the farthest reaches of our solar system, focused at a precise location, and brought to my eyes through a sequence of reflecting mirrors that provides reflection of a much different kind.

What originally appeared as every other star hanging in the night sky, a closer look has revealed the sixth planet from our sun, Saturn. We all know about the rings around Saturn from the images in textbooks. But, it is not until the light from our sun is reflected off this heavenly body and reaches our own eyes that we comprehend its magnificence.

In this fleeting moment of inspiration, I am reminded to look beyond what is seen with the naked eye. Learn to explore every little thing that incessantly tugs at your conscience. It is doing so for a reason. Through the telescope of introspection, the brilliance of these insights can penetrate your soul and reveal compelling truths that provide clarity beyond the clearest mountaintop skies.

For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity. ~Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

In a world consumed with monetary gain and fame, we easily lose touch with our own dreams buried deep inside. Obscured by societal expectations, the essence of our being is left stagnant like the stardust of nebulae.

Looking towards the heavens, we are able to appreciate the wonder of the cosmos and open an intrinsic portal to the depths of our soul. We all have the courage and power to dive inside and transform that stagnant stardust into the creation of a brilliant new star. Suddenly, counting our stars becomes paramount to counting dollars.

Dreams are like stars. You may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny. ~Anonymous

In a language understood by none, but comprehended by all, fantastic and magical stories are written across the night sky. Take the time to gaze skyward, awaken your inner muse, and reconnect with the inherent energy of the universe. Create a personal supernova and illuminate the night sky with your awesomeness.