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As I shared with the East Sussex Astronomical Society members last evening, I could happily take them across the cosmos within an hour, but it took me far longer than that to travel the few miles between Eastbourne to Bexhill to deliver their anticipated presentation! With my main route closed due to an earlier nasty accident, I took my only alternative … a rural road where I then confronted a cement mixer lorry that had somehow ended up in a ditch! Cars queued everywhere. The clock was ticking. I felt sure I wouldn’t make it.

Having pulled over, I reached for the phone to find several old messages and voice mails from Richie Jarvis warning me of the traffic situation. I returned his call … confirming that, yup, I too was aware … because I was stuck right in it!

Mercifully, somehow, I made it, and was welcomed by Andy Lawes, Chairman (Founder and Hon Member) and a really enthusiastic audience.

ESAS Meeting 050315.jpg

(Image credit: Paul Foster, Observing Coordinator, ESAS)

Together, we shared ‘Basketballs and Beyond – Wonders of the Cosmos’ – my personal astronomical voyage. There were well over one hundred listeners – a pretty decent sized audience, from teenagers to seasoned members, the enlightened and, in many cases, and by their own admission, the unenlightened. My perfect crowd!

It was a thrill, as indeed it always is, to kick off a journey from the seemingly small and then travel outwards to the truly immense or, as one gentleman pointed out, to give meaning to the word ‘astronomical’. The basketball came in handy, as it always does, and I loved hearing the gasps of despair or simple awed laughter as distances were described and dimensions given greater depth, with many beautiful images thrown in for good measure.

Feedback was tremendous, indeed overwhelming, which was lovely, as was the book-signing session that followed. Thank you one and all!

I don’t know, something does seem to ‘click’ when I share this subject. I do feel the proverbial ‘round peg in a round hole’.

I don’t pretend to be anyone other than who I am: genuinely enthused, genuinely in awe of what is ‘out there’ and genuinely full of humility and respect. Each presentation I give, no matters the years, leaves me wondering who we are … or, more correctly, who we are not, and our utter insignificance in the Universe as we know it.

I love this beautiful planet too. To me, it is the Garden of Eden, with its plethora of life in all its diversity. To appreciate what is ‘out there’ leads me only to a deeper love and appreciation for Earth and all its inhabitants, flora and fauna alike.

I impart astronomy … because it is one of the few subjects in life that makes sense to me. Somehow, I feel we will never know, can never know, just how immense it is, how it all began, and what will be its demise. Our lives are so painfully, exquisitely brief … but as human beings, with thinking, imagining minds, we have a duty to look up, to live it … and to love it.

My next presentation takes me to Wycombe Astronomical Society, courtesy of Nick Howes and Neil Hawkins. I’m really looking forward to starting that journey all over again …

Bring it on!

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