I have made the very pretentious decision that being given the middle name Starr at birth means that I was born already drawn to space, and that’s a feeling that has stuck with me my entire life. For as long as I can remember, I have stared up at the sky and felt comforted whenever I could see the moon. And as a young closeted bisexual with undiagnosed neurodivergence, sometimes it was as if the sky was the only thing that made sense to me. It comforted me– stuck around unconditionally regardless of whatever problems were following me at the time.
The phases of the moon mesmerised me. The moon, the Earth’s only natural satellite, committed to its orbit, constantly changing and constantly appearing with a different face - but always there. My younger self found that inspiring, and I still do now at twenty. My lifelong love for the moon bleeds through into the way I dress, the way I decorate my spaces and even the way I customise my lock screens. You might usually find me sporting a top with dramatic crescents on the collar, a velvet dress adorned with silver stars, or moon pendants hanging from my neck. Sneak a peek at my laptop, and you’ll see the moon phases plastered across the screen. My love for the moon, however superficial it may seem, permeates every corner of my life. And if you happen to spot someone at night stopping abruptly in the middle of the street to pull their phone out, it is most likely me taking a picture of the sky because the moon is out and full.
For all the moon lovers out there, I would highly recommend visiting the observatory here at St Andrews because it was there where my love for space shot into hyperdrive. It was during Freshers, and I was (as Freshers usually are) exhausted. I had just moved into a new town, started a new course and knew practically no one. I was anxious and desperately needed something to ground me. Ironically, that thing would end up being a planet.
I was invited to use the telescope. I peered through the glass, and there it was: Jupiter. That night, I saw constellations I had never noticed before, the rings of Saturn through the telescope and even an arm of the Milky Way - but Jupiter was what stuck. After being pointed out to me, I became committed to learning where Jupiter is in the sky at all times (with the help of the Stellarium app, of course). If you ever want to spot Jupiter, by the way, it is incredibly easy to do so around this time of the year. When the skies are clear, search for what seems like the brightest star in the sky. That isn’t a star. That’s Jupiter.
Newly nineteen and, frankly, terrified, I clung to the idea of Jupiter as a newborn does to their parents. It became my new moon. I could look up at the sky and be comforted by the fact that this bright star was, in fact, the biggest planet in our solar system, and by some miraculous force, its light still managed to meet our naked eyes from over six hundred million kilometres away. Jupiter is the planet of growth, a fact I learned shortly after deciding that 2023 would be my year of growth and being gifted snowflake obsidian (a crystal which also encourages growth). Whenever I saw it, I would be reminded of that fact, and it gave me the courage to take risks, try new things, and embrace growth and change. (It’s also incredibly fun to annoy my friends at night by being able to point out Jupiter every single time correctly.)
I am also passionate about being able to witness brilliant cosmic events whenever I have the opportunity to. This year alone, I have been able to see a blue supermoon and watched as its orange glow glimmered on the waters of the River Tay in Dundee, and stargazed in my hometown in the hopes of catching a few shooting stars during the Perseids meteor shower in August.
After spending some time thinking about why I feel so drawn to all this, I think I finally have my reason. As a queer neurodivergent person, the world can often feel as though it doesn’t make sense. I make sense of the world by inventing a purpose. And I romanticise life by finding anything and giving it meaning. When I look up at the sky, it’s nice to remind myself sometimes that no matter how difficult everyday life can be, for one fleeting infinitesimal moment… I am always going to be part of this magnificent universe, and I am going to be okay. The universe has, quite literally, become my safe space.
So next time you start to feel lost or out of place, I recommend putting on some cosy clothes, comfortable shoes and several layers of socks and heading outside after the sun sets. Look up and try to find your own meaning in the stars.
P.S. (If you, like me, also define your life by the music you listen to, here’s a song that captures my love for space. Hopefully, you might find some meaning in this, too.)
Walking on the Moon - Texada