This morning, I read a post on a National Public Radio (NPR) blog, entitled “Why We (Should) All Love The Stars.” The text was interesting, but not stunning. The photograph above, though, was moving in ways words probably cannot express. But I’ll try.
The moment I saw the image, I was transported back to a specific moment in time. I was a student attending Montclair Elementary School in Corpus Christi, Texas. I guess I must have been in third or fourth grade. Our class was on a field trip to a science museum in downtown Corpus Christi; I don’t remember which one and don’t know if it’s still there.
My memories of that moment are incomplete, but I recall enough detail to know it was an important moment to me at the time. A women, possibly a volunteer or museum staff member, was showing us rocks and minerals and explaining how they formed. A few particularly beautiful objects caught my attention. They were beautiful and mysterious, one a set of large, angular purple crystals and the other a geode, cut in half and polished. Inside the geode was a bed of tiny purple crystals. I don’t remember many other details of the experience, but I recall that the woman took a particular interest in me and spent time talking to me about the crystals. She said looking into the geode was like looking back in time; she asked me to look into the center of the geode and imagine I was looking at a million stars in the night sky, the light of which was millions of years old.
When I saw the photograph of the ALMA Array against the incredibly beautiful sky, I instantly thought of what that woman said. Now, fifty-plus years later, I think she was telling me the crystals were just as mysterious as the stars. And they were. And they are.
It was amethyst.