WOULD YOU LOVE TO HAVE A TIME MACHINE? . . . WELL, YOU DO!!
You can see your time machine at work every night just by looking upwards.
Light is considered the fastest thing in the universe (although recently doubt has risen about this). It travels at 186,000 miles per second. Even at that speed, the distances between stars and galaxies is so great, that it still takes light a long time to make the journey to us. A “light year” is the distance that light will travel in one Earth year.
The twinkling of the stars we see at night has taken years, and sometimes many years, to reach us. The light left its star so long before WE see it, that we are witnessing an event that occurred in the past from where the light originated. We are watching history via an “astral time machine.”
To get a sense of the age of the light we are seeing today, we can correlate what was occurring on the Earth when this light first left its star. Below is a list of prominent stars in our night sky. We have included the number of “light years” (LY) the star is away from us, when the light we are seeing right now left that star, and what was happening on Earth at the time the light STARTED on its journey.
ALPHA CENTAURI (a triple star, 4.4 LY away)
Today we see the light that left Alpha Centauri in August, 2008. What was happening on Earth then?
The Summer Olympics in Beijing are in full stride as Usain Bolt sets a new 100 meter dash world record of 9.69 seconds. The Republic of Georgia launches a military offensive against the Russian incursion. The “5 Day War” ends shortly after when Russia recognizes their independence. Barrack Obama becomes the first African American to be nominated for President of the U.S. by a major political party.
SIRIUS (8.6 LY away)
Today we see the light that left Sirius in April, 2004. What was happening on Earth then?
Oldsmobile builds its final car after 107 years. The media releases graphic photos of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison. Google introduces G-mail. The Queen Elizabeth II embarks on its first trans-Atlantic voyage. A ceasefire agreement is signed by the Sudanese government and two rebel groups in Darfur.
ALTAIR (16.7 LY away)
Today we see the light that left Altair in June, 1997. What was happening on Earth then?
Timothy McVeigh found guilty of 1995 Oklahoma City bombings. The U.S. Air Force reports that the Roswell “space aliens” were dummies. The Supreme Court upholds the ban on doctor-assisted suicides. Christie’s auctions off Princess Di’s clothing for $5.5 million. The first MLB inter-league baseball game is player (Giants 4, Rangers 3).
VEGA (25.0 LY away)
Today we see the light that left Vega in September, 1988. What was happening on Earth then?
The 24th Summer Olympics open in Seoul, S. Korea.; two days later American diver Greg Louganis hits his head on a diving board but the following day he wins a gold medal. Hurricane Gilbert (160 + mph) kills 300 in Jamaica, Texas, and Mexico. Orel Hershiser sets a record for pitching 59 consecutive scoreless innings in baseball. Military coup in Haiti.
ARCTURUS (36.7 LY away)
The first female cadets are accepted to West Point. Queen Elizabeth II sends out the very first Royal e-mail. Patty Hearst is convicted of armed robberEight Ohio National Guardsmen are indicted for shooting four Kent State students.
ALDEBARAN (65.0 LY away)
Today we see the light that left Aldebaran in September, 1948. What was happening on Earth then?
Groundbreaking commences for the UN Headquarters in New York City (also the UN’s World Health Organization - WHO - is organized. Honda Motor Company is formed. Milton Berle’s “Texaco Star Theatre” premiers on TV. Ralph Bunche is named the UN negotiator in Palestine.
REGULUS (77.5 LY away)
Babe Ruth announces his retirement from baseball as a player. U.S. Congress accepts FDR’s “New Deal.” Alcoholics Anonymous is organized. First driving tests and license plates introduced in England. Joe Louis defeats Primo Carnera at Yankee Stadium.
BETELGEUX (527.0 LY away)
Tizoc, the Aztec ruler, is poisoned and succeeded by his brother. Utrecht surrenders to the Habsburg Army. King Henry VII (House of Lancaster) marries Elizabeth of York (House of York) at the conclusion of the War of the Roses.
ANTARES (600.0 LY away)
Today we see the light that left Antares in September, 1413. What was happening on Earth then?
Donatello creates religious sculptures in Florence. The Joseon Dynasty begins in Korea.
RIGEL (772.5 LY away)
Innocentus is elected Pope in Rome. The Parliament of Ireland meets for the first time.