2012 has been a great year- even with the many downs, there have been many ups…

One thing that stands out for me is how much space- as in Space, The Final Frontier the Universe Space- has played such an important role in my life this year. There have been great triumphs and losses this year… So, briefly, a look at them.

Neil Armstrong– The first human to set foot on another world took his final journey after a quiet life; even though he was immensely humble, his actions (as well as Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins) were that of a great hero who braved the unknown.
Sir Patrick Moore– An astronomer who has been on the BBC for more than half a century, and inspired so many of our current astronomers and astrophysicists, passed. He kept broadcasting his show even into his final days, such was his love of knowledge and of sharing it.
Space Shuttle Endeavor– While not a person, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery was the last time any of the magnificent Shuttles will take flight; truly, the end of an era. An era we must regain- the manned exploration of space must resume- otherwise everything we have done will continue to be trapped on this tiny, fragile orb… As an aside, you can see a few shots of the Final Flight on the Mysidian Moments photography blog.

Mars Curiosity– Another probe that reached Mars; but with much greater abilities- and a social media following… speaking of which, New Year’s Greetings from Mars
Voyager leaving the Solar System– The Voyager I spacecraft (launched on 1977-09-05 12:56:00 UTC), is in the border of the Solar System. 35 years after it left Earth, this human creation is crossing into interstellar space- it will be the first thing we have ever sent beyond the embrace of our sun. And almost as astonishingly, this small ship, virtually as old as I am and with technology earlier than the Apple II, still is sending us knowledge…
Astronomical discoveries– “Super Earth” HD 40307 g in its star’s Goldilock’s Zone; a planet orbitting Alpha Centauri; the most distant galaxy discovered so far, UDFj-39546284, discovered by Hubble and determined to be from when the Universe was just 380 million years old; The massive black hole at the center of NGC 1277; the enormous Phoenix Cluster of galaxies; the rogue exoplanet CFBDSIR2149… All these discoveries came through just in 2012- truly, we are in a golden age of scientific discovery of our place in the sky- which only emphasizes how much we need to focus on learning and science.

Of course, there are many personal events that have shaped 2012- but these remind me that, no matter how much we focus on ourselves, the grand universe stretches out- beckoning us to explore…

Onward to the future!