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  • Foto do escritorStephane Werner

Hey Orion, it's me again

Today the night sky was clear, which is a rarity here in the UK. When I noticed that and looked at the sky, it was like I was travelling in time. Time passed, and many things happened -as they should be - but there's something here inside that remains the same. I felt like a little girl of 7 years old, looking at the sky with my friends in the city where I grew up.

When you work with something you love, it's still a job, and of course, your perspective about the subject changes. For example, I used to like watching the moon and spent hours of my life doing that. I still like to watch the moon, but now if I have the choice, I would like to avoid it when observing my galaxies (since it's bright enough to affect the light coming from them). I still enjoy watching the moon, but I have a different perspective.

However, when you spend so much time programming and doing technical work, you sometimes need to remember why you are doing that and from where you came. So looking at the sky is a way to return to who I am and my main goal: to understand nature. As a little girl, I wanted to understand what was going on out there in these stars. Time has passed, but my goal is still the same.

Sometimes young people on social media ask me how I was sure I wanted to be an astronomer, and the answer can be pretty frustrating: I wasn't. I always liked astronomy, and I don't even remember how it started cause it seems I was born with this feeling. Academic life is so uncertain; you don't know where you're going and who will be in your life in the following years, but at the same time, I feel I'm on the right path. That's what I wanna do: understand the Universe.

Coming back to the night sky, yeah, I have a bunch of mixed feelings when I look at the sky and see a few stars. In particular, when I see Orion - one of the easiest constellations to detect, and it can be seen from England and Rio de Janeiro - I feel like travelling in time. Quoting Carl Sagan, I'm the Universe trying to understand itself, and when I look up, that's how I feel, as part of this giant and magnificent Cosmos.

I wonder why I'm writing all of this. Maybe I just wanted to organise my thoughts and remind myself I'm happy with what I've done so far and where I'm going. If you're a professional astronomer or just a professional who works with something you love, you probably know what I'm talking about. It's good that this feeling is still here, and I hope it never goes away.

Orion seen from Brazil. Credits: Carlos Fairbairn.

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