This week’s Futures story marks the welcome reappearance of Jeff Hecht with his story when last I saw the stars. Jeff is no stranger to Futures — his first story for us, Directed energy, appeared in 2006. His next story, Operation, appeared in the first Futures anthology and he has since also tackled topics as diverse as quantum physics, and smart living. His story horizon appeared in last year’s Futures 2 anthology.
“When I last saw the stars” a sci-fi short by Jeff Hecht where he reveals what happens when light pollution goes too far. When I was 11 years old I started discovering astronomy when my father gave me a one-inch refracting telescope. But it was not that good in series of light-polluted us suburbs where we believed. I was not able to found my milky way. I was sweep of the galaxy stretching across the sky.
The Milky Way Galaxy
The name of our galaxy is the Milky Way. Our Sun and all of the stars that you see at night belong to the Milky Way. When you go outside on a dark night and look up, you will see a milky, misty-looking band stretching across the sky. When you look at this band, you are looking into the densest parts of the Milky Way, the “disk” and the “bulge.” You live at home. Your home lives in a city. The city lives in a state, which lives in a country, which lives on Earth. The Earth lives in our solar system, which calls our galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy, home. You even know the outline of your city and the boundaries of your country. You can use a satellite to see our Earth from a distance. But we have no way of seeing our galaxy from far away.
Filled with stars, the galaxy cluster, dubbed MCS J0416.1-2403, weighs in at 160 trillion times more than the sun. It is one of six such clusters under study by the space telescope. The gravitational pull of the cluster is so intense that it bends light from its galaxies, blurring and elongating their appearance slightly, a gravitational “lens effect” that magnifies their appearance.
A giant Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) telescope, depicted perched atop Mauna Kea in an artist’s rendition, will join the ranks of observatories worldwide.
Construction of the telescope has been given the green light and is scheduled to begin later this year. Mauna Kea, renowned for its clear view of the sky, is already home to a dozen large telescopes. Some 60 mirrors will combine to form the 30-meter (98 feet) main mirror of the TMT. That will make its main mirror more than three times wider than any other visible light telescope on Mauna Kea.
That’s how the story began. It evolved further as I thought about the wonderful telescope technology that lets us see distant galaxies in amazing clarity and detail — but only shows tiny pieces of the sky at a time. How can we appreciate the Universe as a whole if we can see only a little bit of it at a time? It’s like trying to comprehend the sweep of geological time shown in the strata of the Grand Canyon by looking at a small photograph of a single rock with that in mind, I looked backwards and forwards, and let Big Helen and Little Helen tell the story from viewpoints separated by two generations.