For five or six years my home page has been APOD, NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day." Although some of these are images such as unusual shots of the moon as seen from earth or the earth as photographed from inside the bay of the space shuttle, the great majority of them are intensely beautiful photographs of deep space taken by the Hubble Telescope (with a brief explanation by a professional astronomer). The image above is a random example (NGC 1569: Starburst in a Dwarf Irregular Galaxy ).
I am almost always awed beyond my ability to express the awe, and more and more I find that the pictures also produce in me a sense of unfulfilled, sorrowful desire -- the knowledge that the place or object photographed actually exists, but I will never get any closer to it than staring into a 13-inch screen on my laptop.
And if I could go? I think I'd feel like the Jodi Foster character in "Contact," who presses her face against the glass as she soars among the galaxies and whispers, sobs, "They should have sent a poet."
Here's a poet (Mary McCaslin):
The astronomer has even gone to bed;
The stars and distances grow dim inside his head.
And, just like me, he doesn't care too much....
He's tired of looking at those stars he cannot touch.