In Awe of the Scale

At the beginning of the bus ride home from our meet at Middlebury College last night, our team was treated to a magnificent sunset. The clouds and snowy fields created the perfect canvas for a multicolored celestial light show. I had a few moments of awe at the beauty of the sunset, but I also was amazed after reflecting on the sheer scale of what I was seeing from my seat on the bus.

I’ve always loved the mountains, and they were especially beautiful last night. When I’m on top of a peak, I’m always amazed by the amount of space in the valley I’m looking down into, and the distance between one mountain and the next. Last night, though, I looked up and saw the clouds. And the clouds dwarfed the mountains! Looking at the mountains, there were at least trees that you could somewhat make out the size of, and gauge as reference for the mountain’s size relative to you. There’s no reference point on clouds, though, and so I often forget just how enormous they really are. They could have fully contained the mountains under them multiple times over!

And then, of course, there was the sun. The clouds last night were at times covering the sun, but in a thin enough layer that you could still see the perfect yellow circle in the sky. I was struck by the fact that it was possible for us to not only see this ball of fire 93 million miles away, but for us to perceive its shape! The distance from the Earth to the Sun is quite literally astronomical, but we can still see with the naked eye that the Sun is a circle. This sounds a bit strange to be a revelation, I know, but I had a very real, intuitive sense at that moment of just how huge and glorious the universe is.

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