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Thought for the Day, BBC Radio Leicester (Breakfast Show with Jonathan Lampon)
8/3/13
Rhaana Starling

When I was a girl I looked through a telescope at Leicester University's Observatory. It struck me that we are closely connected to that Universe out there - if it wasn't for our nearest star, the Sun, life on Earth would not exist. In the night sky we can see lots more stars - over a billion in our galaxy, and ours is only one of a vast number of galaxies. So where did they all come from?
We know there was a Big Bang in which the Universe was created, but at first everything was dark. When and how did the first star 'switch on' and light up the cosmic dark ages?
I'm afraid, even as an astronomer, I can't tell you. Knowing this would bring us closer to understanding how our Universe is ageing and its eventual fate. Astronomers can look back 13 billion years, but to find the very first generation of stars we need to see even further. British investment in a 39-metre telescope came through this week, which by the 2020's could be showing us pictures of those first stars.
We are driven by a curiosity which has prevailed throughout the ages. Tracing our origins and contemplating our place in the grand scheme of things has occupied not only astronomers, but all the curious among us since the dawn of man. As Shakespeare's Hamlet said, 'There are more things in heaven and earth... than are dreamed of in our philosophy.'