Beyond the Pale Blue Dot
‘That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilisations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.’ – Carl Sagan
On the 7th of September, The Astronomy Club of Manipal hosted its third event of the semester, Exoplanets 2.0. Whilst being a comprehensive and engaging talk on planets that orbit stars other than our Sun, the lecture covered the basics of astronomy as well. Ved Dubashy, the president of the club, talked about how planets are formed, what are nebulas, and everything in-between that was enough to ignite a passion for the stars in even the most inexperienced novice. However, the lecture was quite short, and the pace with which information was disseminated was rather rapid-fire, which, for beginners, may have been difficult to absorb all at once. Nevertheless, the crowd was left hungry for more, their curiosity piqued by the speaker’s presentation, which included breathtaking images of planets, artists’ interpretations of space and captivating videos.
Ved strived to kindle a sense of awe in the audience when it came to how incomprehensibly small the Earth (and other planets) were as compared to the stars, drawing parallels between space and a packet of Lay’s in a way that familiarised the audience and captured their attention. He also dabbled in works of fiction; likening the binary sunset seen in Star Wars – A New Hope, to that of Kepler-16b’s; an actual, habitable, exoplanet.
The lecture highly emphasised the clear correlation between astronomy and humanity, touching upon the belief that mankind was never meant to simply stay on earth, and that looking to the stars, no matter what we continue to discover, will always beget the questions ‘Where have we come from? What lies out there?’