Under the Stars

A traditional Frysan saying goes, ‘ No matter where in the world we are, over us shines the same sun.’

Most commonly the saying expresses continuing family connection and affection in the face of immigration and the creation of one of the world’s most quietest diasporas. The saying also reflects a deep connection amongst the Frysans- as with many minority peoples- to the natural world, an identification with  great mysterious creative forces that govern our lives.

Equally, the saying also has a resonance in modern political thought on equality and solidarity. In essence, it can be read as expressing an ethos of common and united humanity. No matter what side of the world one lives on, one’s colour,  creed, or nation, we are all humans, living under the same sun. Where monotheistic faiths would say, ‘God has created everyone‘ this  simple yet profound Frysan observation can even include in its expression of oneness, people of polytheistic religions and none.

In addition to its tolerance of plurality, this saying is also sweetly, beautifully optimistic. It does not proclaim that for everyone life is a struggle, nor say that it rains on everyone, regardless.  Rather that the sun shines on us all. From empirical fact, this Frysan saying is edified to a universal blessing.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this time of year is marked by a shortage of sunshine, both in hours and intensity of lux. Hence the same sun might shine on us all, but not in equal amounts. But for those who can recall their science lessons, the sun is a star, and at this time of year the night sky is perforated by the clear diamond brilliance of stars- or an array of tiny suns if you will, shining down on all of us, no matter where we may be in the world.

It is a marvellous experience to wrap up warm and with someone special see the  greatest show on earth. But a  handy little tool can make the experience so informative as to render astronomy addictive, as well as obviate the need for thermals. Stellarium is a free planetarium that you can download from http://www.stellarium.org. By entering your latitude and longitude it shows you a realistic night sky in 3D, just like you would see were you to venture outside on a cold winter’s night.

Astronomy can be a fascinating science but also a moving, transcendent experience of sharing and connection. Gazing up at the night sky as so many have done for millennia across cultures -or at the Stellarium programme- might also prompt reflection on all the other peoples who share our planet, in all their beautiful diversity across the world, upon whom the sun, moon and stars also shine.




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