The dream of space through human history
As humans, we have always been bound to what happens in the sky: during the day, we benefit of the heat and the light coming from the Sun; at night, we stare at the widest spectacle ever staged. We spent so much time gazing upwards, that the celestial vault really influenced our history on this planet.
Astronomy is the oldest natural science
If nowadays we are still fascinated by a starry sky, imagine how many meanings our ancestors must have tried to find in it during those dark dark nights: predictions of the future, messages from deities, revelations coming from the stars’ position. No wonder if astronomy is the first natural science humankind began to study. Everything in nature is fleeting: flowers, trees, animals, people. Space and the stars are always up there. They move, but humans found the way to understand their movement, pace and time. They change according to the season, but humans managed to understand their circular rhythm. Astronomy just came after mythology and religion, as we first thought that stars disposition had a special meaning: maybe it was the place where divinities used to live, maybe every pattern, every shape humans perceived was a special message sent from a god. Constellations’ names are the meaning our ancestors gave to star groups: Little and Big Bear, Dragon, Phoenix, Perseus, etc. A story created for each pattern identified in the starry sky. Mythology, religion, orientation, too. Science came later (astronomy was not separated yet from astrology during the Copernican Revolution, in the 16th century).
From dreaming about the stars to travelling through space: when dreams meet technology
Aerospace engineering comes on stage during 20th century and made true all the magic mankind saw in space: after the first artificial satellite launch in 1957, humanity never stopped improving the complexity of their presence in space. Now we are exploring new life possibilities on other planets, but aerospace engineering also changed our everyday life here, on Earth: satellites are involved in communication, scientific experiments, environmental control. Most of our technology is based on the presence of always-enhanced satellites.
Is space still in our dreams?
The answer is easy: yes, space is still there, in our dreams. We look at the stars during clear nights, we make wishes when we see a shooting star, we check the horoscope even if we say we don’t believe it. Technology did not take the magic out of the idea we have of space. It just made it closer.