View Ancient History: The Story of a Visit to a Hill Top

HST Image -Eagle Nebula M16

On a clear night take a walk to the top of a nearby hillside.

If you look up into the sky you will see many tiny points of light in the sky. If you are some distance from the nearest town where there are no street lights you will see thousands which are the stars that make up our galaxy.

You may think that you are seeing things as they are now, but really you are looking into history.

When you look around you on earth you see thing's "instantly" but what you really see is them as they were when the light left them a moment ago. As you look into space you are looking at thing's farther away and so the light has taken longer to reach you.

Our own sun is 149,600,000 kilometres away, so if you were to look at it in the daytime (something you must never do as it is extremely dangerous and can blind you) you would actually be seeing it as it was when the light (travelling at 300,000 kilometres every second) left it just over eight minutes before.

Eight minutes does not seem long so it must be fairly near but when we start to look at those other points of light we start to realise just how far away thing's can be. If we look at the one nearest to us we see it as it was over 4 years ago (as it looked in 1990). If we could see the star at the centre of our galaxy we would be seeing it as it looked 28,000 years ago. Therefore as we look at any star we are seeing different times in history.

If you visit the same hilltop in the day time you will not be able to see the stars but you can still see far into history. Look around you at the plants, animals, and many things' people have made, they all have something in common.

When the universe was formed only two light gasses, Hydrogen and Helium, existed. So as you look around you and see the metal things, such as cars, and the plants which contain carbon you ask yourself where they come from. The answer is that the Hydrogen and Helium collected together to form stars which started to burn. As they burnt they created the carbon, iron and other elements. If the star was very large, when it had used up all its gas it exploded and some of these elements were thrown out into space and started to cross the great distances until they were pulled towards another star, our sun, which was forming and came together to form the planet Earth.

Therefore as you are looking around in the day time all that you see was formed in the centre of one of those tiny points of light in the sky a long time ago.

So the next time you climb to the top of a hill whether it's day time or night time as you look around you really look far back into history.