Supernova

Considering questions of size and scope.

blue and brown milky way galaxy

On this day in 1604, Johannes Kepler observed Supernova SV 1604, which inspired him to write De Stella Nova. The following is inspired by Chapter Sixteen of this volume, as translated by C.M. Graney. It uses phrases from Graney’s translation.

If this passage through a thousand miles in one hour seems still incredible, 

consider the density of air against the density of ether. 

Consider Ptolemy, the ancient opinion, every idea more incredible 

than the last. Philosopher, weigh carefully 

the proportion of accident to subject, and the elegance of proportion

––not of size, as some want, but of beauty, of reasoning. Consider

motion: sun as mover, the planets movables, the place that holds them 

a vast sphere of stars. People may resist, ridicule: what? Fuss about

––what? To critique the mote in another’s eye is forget the log in

our own.  How small, each body here, compared to the globe of earth,

the womb that grows us. What internal faculty sparked this beginning,

her infinite architecture of bodies? 

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I am here to wonder out loud. The point is not to get a clear answer, a complete picture, but to remember how incomplete the picture is, to embrace the process once again, of discovery, of questions, to notice the stirrings of wonder. To leave crumbs behind, for the next traveler.

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