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Crying out stars in the center of Seoul

Posted November. 27, 2013 10:17,   


“Look at how beautifully the stars are shining.”

“Yes. At this moment, I am the only person in the world who knows how those stars are shining.”

Arthur Eddington, a genius physicist of Great Britain found for the first time in the world in 1912 that stars shine because of hydrogen nuclear fusion reaction. Sometime later, he was watching stars on a bench with his girlfriend. He gave a very scientific answer to his girlfriend admiring the beauty of stars. The same beautifully-shining stars, which fascinated the woman in love, were a proof of nuclear fusion to the brilliant physicist. Not surprisingly, Eddington remained unmarried all his life.

People watch stars for various reasons. Astrologists read stars to foretell future destiny, priests to receive divine messages, navigators to lay a course on the sea, and astronomers to find the origin of the universe. Watching stars in the sky, people forecast weather, realize their existence in the vast universe or search UFOs or signals from aliens.

French novelist Alphonse Daudet saw “the most beautiful and shining star lost its way and fell asleep on my shoulder.” The “little prince” of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was happy watching the night sky because he would have “a star of his own whom he can share laughter.” Irish poet Oscar Wild believed that “even if we are all in the gutter, some of us are looking at the stars.” Korean poet Yun Dong-ju wrote in his poem, “Seated on this star-showered bank/ I have written my name thereon/and covered it with earth.” Yes. Stars are also a medium for introspection.

With the development of science and technology and urbanization, stars on the sky are diminishing. People have acknowledged that stars are not a symbol of love but a mass of gas. Stars are shining not because of a blessing of God but because of nuclear fusion. What makes stars twinkling is not the delight of love but the changing density of atmosphere. Thick dusts and splendid neon signs of a large city, blurring the sky at night, induce people to forget the presence of stars. Nevertheless, no one tries to look for a star.

If you take a look at the map of Seoul, Yongsan is located where the south edge of Bukhansan Mountain meets the Han River. Geographically, it is at the center of Seoul. Dong-A Science opened there on Monday the Dong-A Science Astronomical Observatory, which consists of a celestial observation center, a planetarium and an astronomical park. The opening coincided with the passing of Ison comet. When Dong-A Science was first published in 1986, Halley’s comet came back to the Earth in 76 years.

Stars are not far away. Just your will to watch the stars is far away. To bare eyes, stars look very different depending on where you look at them, in a country or in a city. However, with the use of a reflecting telescope or a refracting telescope, such difference disappears. The beauty and wonder one feels by observing stars through these telescopes directly lead to exclamation. Exclaiming at the beauty of stars is not what you can expect only in a country. A general telescope or binoculars would be sufficient to find stars in the sky of a city. It not that people don’t look for stars because they can’t see them, but that people can’t see stars because they don’t look for them.

One of the most practical reasons for watching stars in the past was to locate oneself by measuring time and space based on constellation. In some aspect, this practice has not changed till today because the Global Positioning System uses the same mechanism by using artificial satellites instead of stars. However, the inner self cannot be located by artificial satellites. Those who think they only need artificial satellites and do not watch stars are those who need to watch stars.