The Search for Life in Distant Galaxies

On rare fogless nights like this night, with the thoughts of the city far below him, he would climb the fire escape to the roof of his apartment building where he had fashioned a private observatory. At its heart was a sturdy tripod for his beloved telescope. Surrounding the telescope was a miniature galaxy of assorted pots and containers that held a small garden of night blooming flowers.

He marveled at the night sky and wondered at its illusion of stillness and infinite serenity that masked its careless violence. He loved the moons of Jupiter, and the ice caps of Mars. He loved watching Venus, and had filled several notebooks with theories about its eccentricities.

To mark the seasons he would shift the positions of his night blooming garden to mirror the constellations of the night sky.

It was in the garden, or looking at distant galaxies through his telescope, where he was truly happy and where he felt connected to it all.

But the part of the cosmic picture that included this scene was now fading like the light from some dying star. It was time to let go, to say good-bye. As he packed his telescope for the last time and climbed down the fire escape he imagined some future explorer discovering the garden. He imagined that it would be like discovering the site of an unknown civilization and that the explorer would marvel at how magnificent it must have been in its time and speculate about its ingenious creator.

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