Are you an astronaut or an astronomer?

This question has been around for a while. It has even made a couple of movie appearances, including Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park. It asks whether you are an astronomer, someone who observes the stars from the comfort of Earth, or whether you are an astronaut, someone who risks it all experiencing space first hand.

The first time I heard this question, I remember feeling a sense of boredom towards the astronomer and a sense of excitement and adventure towards the astronaut. I recall that old familiar schoolyard feeling that all the cool kids must be astronauts.

It wasn’t until years later I realized just what an inspiring role the astronomers played over hundreds of years to make the idea of astronauts even possible.

It was through the life’s work of generations of astronomers looking up at the stars figuring out the mysteries of the universe while everyone else was busy looking down at the ground, happy to go about their day to day lives.

It’s the astronomers who dared to ask the bigger questions, more specifically the universe sized questions. It was the astronomers who dared to dream. Without astronomers, astronauts would not exist.

Be proud to be an astronomer, and dare to dream big, universe big.

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