Ecliptic vertigo

I looked up one evening recently and saw the crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter forming a line across the deepening twilight sky. Suddenly, it seemed as though I could actually feel the Earth’s axial tilt — the moon and the planets showed me what was truly “horizontal” in relation to the much bigger solar system of which the Earth is just a minuscule part.

Luna Venere e Giove su Palermo

Photo by Carlo Columba

At that moment, waiting for my bus, the universe opened beneath my feet. I looked across the ecliptic to Jupiter and felt as though I were standing on the slope of a steep mountain at the edge of the sea, a lighthouse beaming across the darkness from the far shore. Below the line formed by Jupiter and Venus, I stared down into the depths of space.

To keep from feeling as if I were about to slip off the face of the Earth, I grabbed hold of the bus stop sign.