On a Place in the Universe

I went looking for pictures of Saturn today.

Last week I spent some time on redesigning my website, and taking the Vertigo theme for WordPress, I combined it with a header and stylesheet I had put together a year before based on Saturn.

Why Saturn? I wanted something dark — and Tarski was a light theme. Even though it came with three variant stylesheets, they were all black text on a white background. I wanted something… cosmic. So, one weekend, I whipped up a white text-on-black background stylesheet, blue headers, and a header graphic…

And did nothing with it.

Making the little bit of work I’d done a year ago work within the Vertigo framework wasn’t difficult — change the hex colors in the stylesheet, adjust the size of the header graphic.

But I wasn’t happy with my choice of an image of Saturn.

You see, that unused stylesheet for Tarski was not my first flirtation with a Saturn-esque theme.

In my early, early WordPress days — when the cutting edge of WordPress was version 1.2 — I found a Mars template. And I liked it, because it had a nice feel. But I wanted something a little bluer, something a little more mysterious.

Something Saturn.

I did a great deal of work on changing the Mars theme into a Saturn theme. I found an image of Saturn that was nigh perfect. I worked on changing the color scheme from browns into blues. But then WordPress moved into version 1.5, and this template didn’t really work in the new-fangled way of doing things in the WordPress world.

The work went abandoned. A project from a world that had moved on.

I looked at the files a few days ago, while cleaning out directories — I collect WordPress themes for no good reason, except that I enjoy looking at code for strange and inexplicable reasons, and sometimes I need to prune the directory on my hard drive.

I liked the header graphic of Saturn I had used. I liked it more than the image I have now, in all truth. But, it was completely unsuitable for my needs now — I’d done a fair bit of alteration to the image, so it wasn’t “clean” to adapt for my present needs.

I decided I’d try to find it.

I didn’t.

Anyone interested in images of the ringed planet should check out the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Cassini-Hugyens website. Out there, in the distant cold of space, the Cassini probe’s mission continues, with new pictures sent back to Earth every day.

They can make you feel very small.

Little dots in the night are places. Unimaginably far away. But places all the same.

From the perspective of those points in the night, the Earth is just another light moving through the skies.

That puts a lot of things into perspective.

We’re very small.

We think everything in our lives is so critical and so important.

We like to think that we matter.

But in the grand scheme of the universe, we are very small.

On the Cassini website there’s a picture — I’ve since lost the URL, and I’m not tempted to find it — of Saturn eclipsing the sun. And from Cassini’s vantage point, Earth can actually be seen, as one point of light in the sky.

I’ll share this one, instead.

Earth and Jupiter, together in the sky, as photographed from Mars.

We’re just a light in the sky.

This light in the sky is what we have.

The differences that separate us — differences of race and gender and creed and color and nationality — are so unimportant. The importance we attach to them is far out of proportion to their actual weight.

Go outside. Look up into the sky of a clear night. Lose yourself in the deepness of the night. Feel the smallness.

We’re just a light in the sky.

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