We live, as I am sure you have noticed, in a unique and wonderful world, where life has kicked off and spread over all corners of our planet. Earth is the place where there is a water and air suitable for maintaining life. Perhaps more importantly, it is the place where you not only exist, but also have the privilege to ponder about the surrounding nature and the meaning of life: What is out there? What is it and are we made of? And of course, how to finish that latest piece of coursework on time? The list of questions is infinitely long, so we shall move on.

Let me take you on a journey through a bizarre and unencompassable universe. Galaxies, nebulae, stars and planets, comets and asteroids, cosmic gas and dust and, inevitably, things not yet perceived by humans: dark matter and energy, and all of the other pieces that shape our mysterious universe.

Imagine that you are steering a spacecraft (after getting your licence, of course). Flying to and from important business missions being millions of light years away from Earth, you, as a professional astronaut, observe a fabulous landscape. Most of the time, you will encounter various types of galaxies, galaxies of different colours, structures, sizes and shapes. Unfortunately our human eyes are not sophisticated enough to catch a whole spectrum of light, but only the visible light spectrum, impeding you from observing many of the sights out there. (Although I’m sure you thoughtfully remembered to take onboard detecting equipment to avoid accidents.)

You are very likely to encounter stars of all calibres: so-called dwarfs, giant, supergiant, dead and binary stars, which without exaggeration, exceed the number of single grains of sand on Earth. In one sense, they are the producers of all power in the universe thanks to fusion reactions, and can be seen as the parents of life and civilization on our planet and most likely other planets too.

There is a possibility of discovery of new planets, comets and asteroids. Planets are extremely abundant in this universe – more so than stars, in fact, although, referring to actual observations only 786 planets have been discovered: not really enough to be considered ‘extremely abundant’. However, there is still a likelihood that one of them consists of continents and oceans just like ours, which orbits around its Sun and maybe bears its own civilizations of living creatures, which also were given the privilege to ponder and question the questions that we do.

All seen objects are just a minute fraction of what we know. The latest breathtaking successes and breakthroughs in understanding of our solar system, origin of galaxies, black holes, dark matter and energy are optimistic and indicate that we’ve chosen a right way: the way of revealing and enlightening mysterious cosmos.

Dmytro Mansura

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