THE other day I went to an open evening at Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society’s observatory at Hoober.
Through the telescopes we spied the cratered desolation of the moon, then we looked at the gas giant, Jupiter, and its own neatly arranged beady satellites.
Moving further afield, we focussed on the whispy star nursery in the distant constellation of Orion.
Finally, across the vastness of cosmolological space, we set the controls for the Andromeda Galaxy.
And unbelievably, despite the light pollution of a million South Yorkshire sodium lamps, the glare of a half-moon and sporadic cloud interference, there it was.
An almost imperceptible glimmer like a candle flickering behind a blanket. It is more than two million light years away – which means that the photons hitting my retina set off on their journey before humans had developed as a species.
The light of a trillion suns was reduced to a haze like a smudge on a camera lens.
And in two million years’ time, perhaps, the countless denizens of planetary systems on that unimaginably distant nebula, will focus on the light from our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
By then the evidence will have finally arrived to signal the Dearne’s fleeting existence.
But they won’t like it.
I fear for their alien souls and the inevitable outpouring of interstellar grief and the depression which will descend upon them when the stark realisation dawns – that it is “Blue Monday”.