As a perfect antidote to cocooning or ‘cluthairiú’ as Gaeilge, on a clear night, just take a step outside your door or balcony and look to the heavens.
You will observe the wonders of the night sky in its infinite majesty even with the naked eye, or better still with binoculars or a basic telescope. Don’t be fazed by light pollution as the eye soon becomes accustomed to the conditions.
Ponder the beauty of our nearest neighbour the moon, as it serenely waxes and wanes across the sky, and see its mountains and craters, evidence of a violent past. Say hello to the man in the moon.
Contemplate our amazing solar system, with many of its planets in full view at the moment, whizzing around our sun — Venus shining brightest of all, high in the western sky; Saturn with its beautiful rings; Jupiter, the gas giant, many light years away, with its violent storm patterns and many moons clearly visible. Mars, ‘the red planet’, also makes its entrance; Mercury, closest to the sun, a little more difficult to spot low in the sky, but well worth the effort.
And then look to the numerous constellations, galaxies and their stars, famed in folklore and mythology by our ancestors.
To name just a few, The Plough is currently high in the sky overhead, and trace the now redundant Polaris, or North Star, but was a vital friend to mariners and travellers through the ages. Orion, the hunter, stands proud with its prominent three-star belt. Gemini, the twins, are close to the moon at the moment.
Much of what we see as stars are, in fact, giant galaxies like our own magnificent Milky Way.
Those who are religious will believe that such limitless wonders were created by a divine power, while others will say that it all started with the Big Bang and can be explained by the laws of physics and gravity.
Some will ask are we alone in this great vastness and may even be moved to contemplate the meaning of life itself.
Whatever your view, take a look and be inspired.