By Joe Rector
Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, appeared on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert recently. Tyson is a favorite of many folks. In fact, the man has 2.4 million followers on social media. Although I am many times fascinated with the information he presents, the other night his talk depressed me.
What I paid attention to most was his discussion of dark energy. I think some refer to it as a black hole. I’m lost on the topic from the get-go. I thought all holes were pretty much dark, especially at night. Tyson said that gravitational pull was a key factor in dark energy. I got that part. All I have to do to understand gravitational pull is to look at my aging body and immediately see the effects.
Before long, Tyson made a statement that shocked me. He said that the gravitational pull of dark energy would cause the universe to continue to grow and expand forever. Okay, since I’m not going to take any vacations to distant or, for that matter, near planets, I wasn’t too upset. However, Tyson said that the stars in the sky would disappear as the universe expands. In fact, the only stars that future generations see will be in the Milky Way. All the rest will be gone from view.
That’s when depression set in. No, I’m not worried for me nor for any of my family in years to come. However, at some point, those stars will be gone. Then, generations to come will wonder what the big deal was. They won’t understand song titles like “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” or “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.”
Stargazing won’t be popular anymore. Remember those times when we were young and we lay on the cool grass of a summer night and looked up at the stars? Looking above and trying to find formations of stars that were named by astronomers will be gone. I wonder if future generations will even be able to see shooting stars.
Many stars have already disappeared for many of us. Housing developments continue to spread like a cancer on hills and fields. When we were children, darkness arrived and seeing in front of us was almost impossible. However, we could look up and see a sky swarming with stars. With each new street light or subdivision, stars blinked out. Today, we have to travel to places far away from our homes to be able to see and grasp the concept of a star-filled sky.
I know this complaint is something about which I shouldn’t concern myself. The loss of stars isn’t imminent. Still, I know how wonderful they are and how much inspiration and curiosity have risen from them. Knowing that at some time in the extended future folks won’t have the same chance to experience one of the true marvels of the universe is a bit sad. Of course, if we don’t clean up this planet and take better care of it, standing outside might be impossible because the waters will cover the lands and the poisons will choke the skies. Maybe I should turn my energies more toward taking care of that problem first and let future generations worry about disappearing stars.