Astronomical observation has come a long way since the times of Galileo Galilei - some say that we have spent more energy studying space before knowing our own planet - and yet, the eternal search beyond our limits does not, as some may think, distance us from our own reality but, rather, will always inevitably bring us back to ourselves.
During the very interesting launch of an exhibition of astrophotography from Malta at the Italian Cultural Institute (February 3) those present were invited, by Joseph Caruana to fathom the unfathomable and reconsider the universal questions from an interesting perspective: "Why has the universe given rise to matter that contemplates its origins" and "What lies beyond the edge of our observable universe? And "What if there exist parallel universes to ours?"
The photographs on show - especially the awesome colours and intricate nature of various nebulae and distant galaxies, but also our closer neighbouring planets and the moon - inspire the viewer to look deeper beyond... and within.
Well done to all those involved. I do hope that the long drawn out suggestions for the setting up of an astronomical observatory in Malta will become a reality which is no longer postponed - this is also the heartfelt wish expressed by Tony Tanti, president of the Astronomical Society of Malta.
This, coupled with a serious drive to reduce light pollution could well rekindle past interest in Malta as an observation point - something which could fit in well as an alternative attraction to locals and tourists alike. Dark skies, after all, are also part of a common heritage to be enjoyed by all, scientist and amateur alike.
The exhibition forms part of the local activities organised by the IYA 2009 Malta Committee in connection with the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), a global celebration of astronomy, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei.
The exhibition can be visited until February 13 at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, St George's Square, Valletta. Opening times: Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday closed.