June 20, 2021

Van Nostrand: ‘The great beyond’

By John Van Nostrand, CNA managing editor

Is it just me or has “space” news been more emphasized since the eclipse of the sun in 2017?

Almost four years ago, most of the country, and North America, were anticipating a rare celestial treat as the moon’s orbit put itself between Earth and the sun momentarily darkening most of the country for a few minutes. It was the first time an eclipse been visible in the states since 1979.

The Christmas Day-like anticipation leading up to the eclipse day made perfect sense. And the interest in space has not came down to earth since.

The list of space related news was getting attention before then. I remember in 2015 a full moon in the fall was supposedly brighter and appeared larger mainly since the moon’s orbit and earth’s orbit were at point the moon was relatively closer to Earth making the moon appear larger in the sky. I went outside of town to a friend’s farm to view the moon without city lights interfering.

Since then, we have had similar full-moon events and some of those months have been nicknamed based on the time of the year or appearance of the moon. Last fall, a meteor shower passing through the galaxy was close enough to Earth to be witnessed. Meteor showers seem to be on a schedule as those have had made appearances before over prior years. Seeing the fascinating, very short-lived streaks of light through the night sky, the attention is deserved.

The news about what happens in space just keeps coming.

Last week, there were released reports of UFO sightings by military units. I guess the more appropriate acronym is UAP, unidentified aerial phenomena. You may have seen the video on television news as the airplane’s or ship’s radar picks up some kind of object on its as it zig zags across the screen. It is one of man’s biggest curiosities. Is something else out there?

Those looking into the reports have not said those blips are aliens. But they also have not denied it is aliens either. So we keep pressing forward but with nothing more to build on except more speculation and opinion.

Are there other beings other than what is on Earth? That’s not new news either.

In 1947, a person found unidentifiable items in his pasture outside Roswell, New Mexico. Although officials from the nearby Air Force base claimed it was pieces from a crashed weather balloon, many believed it was the leftover of a UFO.

I’m skeptical, especially thinking there are other lifeforms beyond Earth. Every so often you will read a report of possible water, or what could have been water, on another planet, like Mars. Then the water leads into another discussion about the water supporting forms of life. But how do we know other life forms need water to live, like humans? How do we know other forms of life need oxygen to live, also like humans?

I don’t know if it is arrogance to think other forms of life are similar to humans, requiring water and oxygen, or if it’s ignorance. Isn’t that the appeal of science fiction books and movies; how other creatures live differently than humans?

Our interest in space is also to the point we want to experience it like going to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone national parks.

Amazon online shopping creator Jeff Bezos is moving away from the business to a rocket ship with his brother to at least catch glimpse of space.

Both Bezos and an auction winner for Blue Origin’s nonprofit foundation will board the New Shepard ship July 20 destined for space, the first time the spacecraft will carry passengers. Blue Origin is the name of Jeff’s space project. The date is not accidental as that is the anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s historic Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

Bezos’ flight will be a boost for Blue Origin, which competes with fellow super wealthy man Elon Musk’s SpaceX for billions of dollars in NASA and Pentagon contracts. SpaceX is more capable of sending people and supplies into orbit.

Bezos and the others won’t undergo any of the strict training that has been created for astronauts into space. Blue Origin informed passengers they must climb many stairs to reach the capsule and have to sit for 90 minutes without needing a bathroom. The trip will be monitored by computers, so the passengers can just sit and enjoy the ride.

And end up on military radar systems.