Two Christmases ago, I got a digital telescope. My family knew of my interest in astronomy, so they bought it for me. I was, of course, ecstatic at the prospect of looking at some pretty stars in the sky. I'd get to see more than I could with my naked eye. It was digital, too, so it could point at stars for me.
On one cold January night, I hauled it outside to my driveway. The moon was near the horizon, illuminating parts of the landscape. I was lucky that night. I still had to deal with trees towering nearby, but at least cloud cover was at a minimum, only near the edges of the celestial sphere. So I set up the telescope and pointed it northward. The telescope aligned itself properly, and I was ready to scour the skies.
I decided to point it at a few stars first. I tried Albireo, the double star, one red and one blue. It was fairly pretty. Polaris and Vega were also nice. Interesting, I suppose. One thing quickly caught me, though. I looked to the east, and saw Jupiter. It was easy to see with the naked eye, but I realized I had never seen it with a telescope before. I decided to point it at Jupiter.
I looked through that lens at Jupiter, and gazed, sort of subsconsciously thinking "wow, how pretty." I gazed at the moons, and saw a little gray spot on Jupiter, which I knew from knowledge and images to be red. I gazed like that for a minute, then removed my eye from the eyepiece.
Around me I saw the trees and the grass. I looked at the moon, illuminating the distant houses and cloud. I looked at my porch light, lighting the gleaming cars against the blackness of my driveway. My eyes circled through my surroundings.
I quickly looked through the lens again. Jupiter had moved, I had to adjust my telescope. I found Jupiter again. I was moved to tears.
Here I am, on this small earth, this pathetic little planet, and I am looking out at another planet a few hundred times the size of this one, a planet with its own moons. And yet I could see the details, the moons and the spot, and it moved me. Look there at that planet, and our planet, as large as it is to me, is nothing compared to it. And every other speck of light is just as big if not bigger than than me, than the very ground on which I stand. Yet they are so far away that they seem insignificant; but seeing Jupiter even in such detail didn't seem insignificant at all. It was humbling.
I soon pointed the telescope at Saturn, and I could see its rings. I was moved again. Thousands of miles away from me, yet I am looking at this vast world. I'm not looking at a picture, a facsimile repasted into every science textbook I've read. This is the actual planet, those truly the icy rings, and one could see them tilted. I am looking out, and in my line of sight is another world, so vaster than my own. Nay, each speck of light housed unto worlds of their own.