Beyond the Stars

“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another” said Plato. Since time immemorial people have been looking to the stars to find meaning and guidance. One can only imagine what the sun, its comings and goings, plunging the world into light then darkness must have meant to prehistoric man. But beyond the practical, the act of gazing up at stars and observing them does indeed lead us to think beyond the confines of our own planet.

Founded in 1985, the Astronomical Society of Greenwich is an association of amateur astronomers at all levels of expertise, affiliated with the Natural Science Department of the Bruce Museum. The goals of the organization are to foster and advance awareness and understanding of various aspects of the science of astronomy to residents of Greenwich and environs and to encourage active participation in astronomy-related activities of K-12 students in Greenwich schools. The Bowman Observatory, located inside the Bruce Museum, has the best computerized telescope in Connecticut. For all the amateur astronomers out there this is the ideal place to indulge your love of astronomy. The Society has Observatory Public Nights, free to the public, on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month. On Feb. 28 the event will begin at 7-9 p.m. and on March 13 and 27 from 8-10 p.m. In addition their monthly meetings replete with astronomical discussions and a special speaker occur the first Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Bruce Museum. For more information please log onto

The Sumerians, who settled in Mesopotamia around 4000 BC, mark the first example of a people who worshipped the sun, moon and Venus. They considered these heavenly bodies to be gods. The priests of the time who communicated with the gods were the first rulers. Temple systems were created and staffs of as many as several hundred to several thousand people in various roles were employed to fulfill the various needs of priests. There were junior priests, counselors, musicians, potters, etc. Later it became necessary to have military leaders and some of these became kings. These kings usually had in their company a seer, this person was an interpreter of the skies who would read the sky for warnings, which usually involved eclipses of the moon.

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself” said Galileo. Any appreciation of astronomy, even the most amateur kind, will prove these words to be true. When one looks up at the sky on a star filled night one is immediately filled with awe. But we cannot be struck by the profundity of the universe unless we recognize that same boundless energy within ourselves, even if we don’t understand it. A trip to the Astronomical Society of Greenwich will remind us of how small we really are within the grand scheme of things and how insignificant it is to hold on to those man made definitions we have created for ourselves.

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