On a Winter Night’s Thoughts

Monday night when I left the office, about ten minutes to six, I stepped out of the office building’s glass doors into the early night and there, ahead of me in deep space, was Orion, his mighty belt running from just slightly above the horizon to perhaps a fifth of the way to zenith.

The night air was clear and, despite the lights illumunating the parking lot from above, the stars were visible and crisp in the January sky.

On clear nights like this, especially out in the country when you can truly see into infinity, it’s not uncommon to wonder what’s out there. Nor is it difficult to wonder if there might be someone or something, near one of those distant points of light, looking back across the cosmos in our direction.

What would an alien intelligence, quite unlike ours, see, looking back this way? Would they notice the cities lighted at night, shining like little beacons from a darkened planet? Would they notice the melting icecaps? Would the pollution of the atmosphere bother them? Would they notice the crippling poverty of much of the globe’s population? Would they notice the number of men and women under uniform, their fingers on weapons that can kill and maim and, in far too many cases, annihilate entire cities?

Or would they notice us at all? Would they be more interested in the great creatures that inhabit the oceans, or the animals that roam freely about the interior of the continents? Would a butterfly, flittering about a summer’s field, capture their fancy? Would they notice the way a cloud turns pinkish in the early morning dawn? Would they revel in our blue sky, perhaps quite unlike their own?

It’s tempting to wonder about, anytime you see the stars on a crisp winter’s night. ;)

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