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HEAVENLY BODIES
November 16, 2011
 
The new bedroom is tiny -- as predicted, the old four poster bed just about fills it. I am persuaded that the room is splendid, though, and was confirmed in that opinion on our very first night in the new house, when I turned my head toward the window and saw a star.

A star! Right outside my bedroom window! It would watch over me through all the nights remaining to me. It would be my partner, steady and ancient, when I awakened in the wee hours. Long after I ceased to be even a memory, it would shine on the place where I was.

The next night I looked eagerly for my new roommate, but it was nowhere to be seen. Oh, I thought sheepishly -- I had forgotten that the stars aren't fixed in our night sky. The earth rotates and orbits, and so the stars move around, relative to us, in the course of a night and in the course of a week. Our perspective changes every day; the night sky is never exactly the same two nights in a row. My star is not just mine -- I share it with people on the other side of the world.

This was disappointing. The idea of turning my head and seeing my star every night was an appealing one: my own pet star, constant and obedient coming when called, my faithful chaperone. But no: the stars are not our pets. They do not do our bidding. They are lovely, but they are not ours. The stars are not about us.

My disappointment was temporary: there was news. My star wasn't a star at all -- it was the planet Jupiter. Jupiter! The greatest of our solar system's wanderers was showing himself to the Atlantic coast of the United States, big and brilliant, chasing a pearly moon across the sky.

The night sky is not all about me. I share it with other admirers. I have colleagues: other star watchers, to be sure, but I am also colleague with the heavens themselves. I see and love them, these starry sisters and brothers. Who is to say that they don't see and love me?

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Here is a beautiful, healthy and happy Seiji Ozawa conducting 
"Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity" from Gustavo Holst's "The Planets," Opus 32.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6NopU9K_8M&feature=youtube_gdata_player
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