Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

If you know the words, you know what follows is, How I wonder what you are.

Isn’t this Mozart’s first masterpiece that he composed from when he was seven? Correct me if I am mistaken, but I am certain that this melody was composed by a seven-year old who later became a master.

Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky

Honestly though, what is a star?

It might sound silly for a schooled person to ask what a star is but if one just stops and really thinks about it, a star is really something of question. Something that should, indeed, make us wonder about.

If we take an answer from the story of Stardust, we’d know that a star is an immortal living being that constantly watches over our planet. But that’s just fiction.

If we take it from the myths of local folklore, here in the Philippines, we’d know that stars are actually diamonds and precious gems once owned by a prominent woman who just happened to have hung them in the sky back when it was still low enough but failed to retrieve them for the sky eventually became unreachable. But that’s just another fiction.

Someone who studied enough science would say that stars are giant balls of gas far out in space that emit light which illuminates the Earth.

But the people of science are also the same people who determined that light travels at such great speed that nothing travels faster than it. In physics, the number is huge and significant enough that when we write the speed of light – at 300,000 kph – we simply use a constant, C.

These same people also told us that these balls of gas out in space are so far from Earth that the numbers to speak of their distance would be very huge if we insist on using the ordinary manner in which we measure distance. Hence, their distance from our planet is measured in light years – the distance that light travels in a year. Even then, the numbers are still huge.

These men and women of science have also told us that these balls of gas change forms and, eventually, die out.

Now, given all those things, if we think about it clearly, do we really still have a proper definition of what a star is?

You see, these lights took eons, eons, and endless eons of time to travel before reaching us. Such great distance would take way, way more than a snap of a finger before reaching us even traveling at C.

So, what are the odds that the lot of these supposed giant balls of light actually aren’t there anymore? What are the odds that we are merely seeing the remnants of that which existed once before? What are the odds that the night sky is actually a picture of a fragment of time that once was?

If one just stops and thinks about it, the thought is immensely incredible. We all dream of time travel but what we fail to note is that, every night, there is a very clear picture of the past that envelopes the sky.

Now I ask again, what is a star?