A Journey to the Stars


Photos & Memoir by Amanda Yang

It was a dark, dark night. Except the low and consecutive sound emitted by the giant remote astronomical telescope, I could only hear the slight sound of the camera in front me, taking pictures automatically. The wind was chilly, as if a knife cutting my face. Although I wore thick gloves and coat, the wind still poured in my core, and traveled down my spine.

I still remembered the time when I signed to go to the astronomical observatory in Xing Long. I was so excited about my approaching trip that I even looked up some tips of picturing stars, and took pages of notes. However, these notes were not useful anymore when I arrived in Xing Long. When I first went out, I was shocked by the spectacular scene that I could never forget in my whole life. Scorpio and Orion were competing about who was more dazzling, the Big Bear was following other constellations to avoid getting lost, and the ghost cluster was blinking at me. The silvery Milky Way had no summer splendor, but a mysterious color. Gazing at the stars, I felt that my whole body was purified. They were all innocent eyes twinkling at and intoxicating me. I removed my eyes from the sky and continued following my teacher along the narrow route in the forest.

The route was circuitous and damp, covered with melting snow. I could hear some slight whisper from the nearby forest, which was emitted by other people who were finding spots and taking pictures. Suddenly, our teacher stopped walking and turned around. “Look at the sky, everyone. See that Milky Way? If you see it, set your cameras, and try to focus on it through the leaves, and your picture of the sky will be taken from another perspective. Fascinating, right?” After our teacher’s hint, me and my friend all started to set our cameras. At first, I could not focus my lens toward the gap of the leaves, however, after I adjusted the location of my camera and tripod, I started to capture some dim light of the galaxy. Knowing that I was about to succeed, I asked my teacher to help me construct a perfect composition of the picture of the Milky Way and its surrounding halo. I was so excited to see the final draft of my first picture that I even started to tremble. After about a million hours(at least I felt that it was), finally, my teacher said to me: “Come and take a look.” I walked near my camera, took a deep breath, and looked at the screen. It was a beautiful picture, or more than just beautiful. The deep blue sky was the background, and brushes of green leaves were surrounding the central Milky Way, which was shining a silver color, making me intoxicated. I could not say anything to my teacher since I was too happy to say a word. It seemed like my teacher figured out what I was thinking, he tapped my shoulder, and encouraged me to find another spot with some of my friends.

After my teacher informed me and my friends some rules to obey, we began to find spots to take pictures. Finally, after a long walk, we found a flat hill at the edge of the forest. There was a white building with smooth surface standing on that hill. Knowing that it was nearly midnight, we set the cameras, sat on the stairs and began to look at the sky. It was so quiet in the surrounding environment that I could only hear my heart pounding. The sky was wide and profound, unlike the narrow sky that I saw under the trees. Stars were shining spectacularly, full of mystery and attraction, forcing me to explore deeper. At the same time, I felt a strong sense of emptiness because we, mankind, are so tiny being compared to the mass universe. People around me were all gazing at sky without blinking their eyes. I knew what they were thinking, because I felt the same way too.

After I went back to the hotel, I flipped the pictures I took for many times. Every time I felt lonely and desperate, I would think about the stars I saw at that unforgettable night. Thinking that they were all around me, giving me strength, I became stronger and stronger through overcoming hardships. When encountering difficulties, we can think about how tiny we are compared to the giant universe, and how tiny those difficulties are. After considering about that, everything will be fine.