Darkness was at first by darkness hidden.
Hindu creation hymn
The Earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
Nothing can be created out of nothing.
Lucretius 50 BCE
We can never admit that anything should come into being out of not being. Something either is or it is not.
Parmenides 445 BCE
You cannot make a big mistake about nothing.
John Dobson 1991 CE
In the beginning there was nothing at all. To the north and south of nothingness lay regions of fire and frost.
Snorri Sturluson 1220 CE
In the beginning there was only Tirawahat, which is the Universe and
everything in it.
Skidi Pawnee Indian
In the very beginning everything was resting in darkness. Night
oppressed everything like an impenetrable thicket.
Tribe of Aranda, Central Australia
All was in suspense, all calm, all in silence, all motionless and still
and the expanse of the sky was empty.
The creator, Awonawilona, thought himself into being.
Na Arean sat alone in space as a cloud that floats in nothingness. He
slept not, for there was no sleep. He hungered not, for as yet there was
no hunger. So he remained for a great while, until a thought came to his
mind. He said to himself, I will make a thing.
Maianan tribe, Gilbert Islands
First there was the Great Cosmic Egg. Inside the egg was chaos.
Floating in the chaos was P'an Ku, the undeveloped divine embryo.
Huai-nan Tzu, China 100 BCE
They came to a round hole in the sky, burning like fire. "This," said
the Raven, "is a star."
Inuit creation story
The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be.
The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started.
For us physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion.
I ain't no physicist but I knows what matters.
Popeye the Sailor
There are too many stars in some places and not enough in others.
I'm astounded by people who want to know the Universe. It's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.
A day is a miniature eternity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Gravity is only the bark of wisdom's tree, but it is what preserves it.
Confucius 500 BCE
Even sticks and stones have a spiritual essence, a manifestation of the
mysterious power that fills the Universe.
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever
we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
Chief Seattle 1854 CE
The drum in a dream pounds loud to the dreamer.
You can be in my dream if I can be in yours.
See the world as it truly is, small and blue, beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats.
The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still
ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do.
"We had the stars up there," said Huck, "And we use to lie on our backs
and look up at them
and discuss 'bout whether they was made or just happened. Jim he allowed
that the stars was
made, but I allowed they just happened. Jim said the Moon could'a laid
them; Well, that looked
kind of reasonable so I didn't say nothing against it. I've seen a frog
lay most as many, so of
course it could be done."
Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn)
Things should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.
The glory of mathematics is that we do not have to say what we are
The future just ain't what it use to be and what's more it never was.
Lee Hays (The Weavers)
The heavens are now seen to resemble a luxuriant garden,
which contains the greatest variety of productions, in different flourishing beds.
How is it that the sky feeds the stars?
Lucretius 54 BCE
In the Universe the difficult things are done as if they were easy.
What we have learned is like a handful of earth. What we have yet to learn is like the whole world.
Avvaiyar 300 CE
Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so each small
piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.
It is not easy to describe the sea with the mouth.
For those who are awake the cosmos is one.
Heraclitus 500 BCE
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
Sarah Williams 1868 CE
The Sun, the stars and the seasons as they pass, some can gaze upon these with no strain of fear.
Horace 30 BCE
He showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, in the palm of my hand;
and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with the eye of my understanding,
and thought; "What may this be?" And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made.
Julian of Norwich 1368 CE
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the Sun,
and the Moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been
only a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then
finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary. Whilst the great
ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Many a night from yonder ivied casement,
Ere I went to rest,
Did I look on great Orion,
Sloping slowly to the west.
The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.
Pamela Hansford Johnson 1981 CE
I don't pretend to understand the Universe. It's a great deal bigger than I am.
"What did you see?" I asked, "Before beginning's Big Bang lights?"
(I reviews and interviews, I edits and I writes).
"Before the start of time, before the Universe's birth?
What did the Hubble show, ten billion years before the Earth?"
He told me. Now I writes no more. I drinks a bit, I edits.
"Right before the beginning, " he said, "is when they roll the credits!"
Jonathan Vos Post
I have looked farther into space than ever a human being did before me.
William Herschel 1780 CE
There is nothing new under the Sun.
O had I power like inclination,
I'd hoist thee up a constellation!
To canter with the Sagittare,
Or leap the Ecliptic like a bear,
Or turn the Pole like any arrow;
Or when old Phoebus bids good-morrow
Down the Zodiac urge the race,
And cast dirt on his godship's face:
For I could lay my bread and kale
He'd ne'er cast salt upon thy tail!
Robert Burns 1788 CE
He knows well the evening star, and once when he awoke, in a most
distressful mood (some inward pain had made up that strange thing, an
infant's dream), I hurried with him to our orchard plot, and he beheld
the moon, and hushed at once. Suspends his sobs and laughs most
silently. While his fair eyes, that swam with undropped tears, did
glitter in the yellow moonbeam.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1829 CE
The wind-shak'd surge, with high and monstrous main, Seems to cast water
on the burning Bear, And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole.
I must go down to the seas again,
To the lonely sea and the sky.
And all I want is a tall ship,
And a star to steer her by.
Watch the stars and from them learn.
To the Master's honor all must turn,
Each in its track, without a sound,
Forever tracing Newton's ground.
When I had heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause
in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wandered off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time
Looked up in perfect silence at the stars.
When I had satisfied myself that no star of that kind had ever shone
before, I was led into such perplexity by the unbelievability of the
thing that I began to doubt the faith of my own eyes.
Tycho Brahe (supernova 1572)
The infinitude of creation is great enough to make a world, or a Milky
Way of worlds, look in comparison with it what a flower or an insect
does in comparison with the Earth.
It's just a bunch of junk up there.
Harry Monroe 1986 CE
In space you can hang your clothes anywhere.
RL.Dietz 1991 CE
God is mostly hydrogen.
Bradley Snowder 1988 CE
I would live to study, and not study to live.
Education is an ornament in prosperity, and a refuge in adversity.
If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the Universe.
The present situation in physics is as if we know chess, but we don't
know one or two rules.
It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
There are no frontiers to learning.
Knowledge advances by steps and not by leaps.
The longer the island of knowledge the longer the shoreline of wonder.
Ralph W. Sockman
The way of progress is neither swift nor easy.
Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily
Sir Karl Popper
Observations always involve theory.
Eyesight should learn from reason.
A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a great truth.
Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical
world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.
Satire is looking through the wrong end of a telescope.
Many a night I saw the Pleiads,
Rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies,
Tangled in a silver braid.
That is the spiral galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky
Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one
hundred billion suns. Now I think we are small enough.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.
Winnie the Pooh
By getting to smaller and smaller units, we do not come to fundamental
or indivisible units. But we do come to a point where further division
has no meaning.
I never think about the future. It comes soon enough.
Thales fell into a well as he was looking up at the stars. He was so
eager to know what was going on in heaven that he could not see what was
before his feet.
Thracian handmaid 585 BCE
There are many worlds and many systems of Universes existing all at the
same time, all of them perishable.
Anaximander 546 BCE
There is a stability in the Universe because of the orderly and balanced
process of change, the same measure coming out as going in, as if
reality were a huge fire that inhaled and exhaled equal amounts.
Heraclitus 501 BCE
There are forces in nature called Love and Hate. The force of Love
causes elements to be attracted to each other and to be built up into
some particular form or person, and the force of Hate causes the
decomposition of things.
Empedocles 430 BCE
Moving in space, the atoms originally were individual units, but
inevitably they began to collide with each other, and in cases where
their shapes were such as to permit them to interlock, they began to
form clusters. Water, air, fire, and earth, these are simply different
clusters of the changeless atoms.
Democritus 439 BCE
The forces of rotation caused red hot masses of stones to be torn away
from the Earth and to be thrown into the ether, and this is the origin
of the stars.
Anaxagoras 428 BCE
The joy of looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift.
It is indeed immensely picturesque. I can fancy sitting all a summer's
day watching its shadows shorten and lengthen again, and drawing a delicious
contrast between the world's duration and the feeble span of individual experience.
There is something in Stonehenge almost reassuring; and if you are disposed to feel
that life is rather a superficial matter, and that we soon get to the bottom of things,
the immemorial gray pillars may serve to remind you of the enormous background of time.
Henry James 1875 CE
Infinity is just time on an ego trip.
Nothing can be sworn impossible since Zeus made night during mid-day,
hiding the light of the shining Sun.
Archilochus 648 BCE
The Sun is a mass of fiery stone, a little larger than Greece.
Anaxagoras 434 BCE
Spots are on the surface of the solar body where they are produced and
also dissolved, some in shorter and others in longer periods. They are
carried around the Sun; an important occurrence in itself.
Galileo Galilei 1611 CE
The source from which existing things derive their existence is also
that to which they return at their destruction.
Anaximander 547 BCE
Time begins from some place
Measured by the age of light.
It began from the furthest thing
We see flicker in the night.
The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the
Anaxagoras 459 BCE
One astronomer set up his equipment in an empty chicken coop to protect
his instruments from the wind, and then spent most of the eclipse trying
to shoo away the chickens, who dutifully reported to the roost when
Wm. Hartmann 1978 CE
A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be
enough for the study of so vast a subject. A time will come when our
descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain
Seneca, Book 7, first century CE
Astronomy would not provide me with bread if men did not entertain hopes
of reading the future in the heavens.
Johanne Kepler 1577 CE
A time will come when men will stretch out their eyes. They should see
planets like our Earth.
Christopher Wren 1657 CE
A day will come when beings, now latent in our thoughts and hidden in our
loins, shall stand upon Earth as a footstool and laugh, and reach out
their hands amidst the stars.
H.G. Wells, 1902 CE
It is remarkable that the elements diffused through the host of stars are
some of those most closely connected with the living organisms of our
W. Huggins, 1865 CE
Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the
John Keynes 1942 CE
Anyone who has lived through an English winter can see the point of
building Stonehenge to make the Sun come back.
Alison Jolly 1988 CE
To me the most interesting thing about man is that he is an animal who
practices art and science and in every known society practices both
Jacob Bronowski 1967 CE
Do you believe then that the sciences would ever have arisen and become
great if there had not before hand been magicians, alchemists,
astrologers and wizards, who thirsted and hungered after abscondite and
Friedrich Nietzsche 1886 CE
The Hopi have no real professional astronomers, instead they have elders,
widely educated in the ritually transmitted wisdom of clan and tribe.
Stephen McCluskey 1982 CE
We think that the Sun watcher is not a good man. He was wrong last
year. The Hopi think that is why we had so much cold this winter and no
Crow Wing 1925 CE
Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes that
call me on and on across the Universe. Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns, it calls me on and on across the
The Beatles 1968 CE
If I get home before daylight I just might get some sleep tonight.
The Grateful Dead
What science strives for is an utmost acuteness and clarity of concepts
as regards their mutual relation and their correspondence to sensory
Sometimes at night I just lie there looking up at the stars and I think man, I need to fix the roof.
Why did not somebody teach me the constellations, and make me at home in
the starry heavens, which are always overhead, and which I don't half
know to this day?
Thomas Carlyle 1880 CE
The number of those seen by the naked eye at once is seldom above a
thousand; though from their scintillation, and the indistinct manner in
which they are viewed, they appear to be almost infinite.
W.H. Smyth 1860 CE
It is nothing else but a mass of innumerable stars planted together in
Galileo Galilei 1611 CE (the Milky Way)
They toiled and built a thousand years
In love's all powerful might;
And so the Milky Way was made
A starry bridge of light.
Zacharias Topelius 1890 CE
Whether the skies grown old here shrink their frame,
And through the chinks admit an upper flame.
Or whether here the heaven's two halves are joyn'd,
But oddly clos'd still leave a seam behind.
Or here the parts in wedges closely prest,
To fix the frame, are thicker than the rest.
Like clouds condens'd appear and bound the sight,
The azure being thickened into white.
Gaius Manilius, first century CE (the Milky Way)
Torrent of light and river of air,
Along whose bed the glimmering stars are seen,
Like gold and silver sands in some ravine
Where mountain streams have left their channels bare!
H.W. Longfellow 1880 CE (the Milky Way)
Give me a firm place to stand and I will move the Earth.
Archimedes 200 BCE
To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold
infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.
William Blake 1800 CE
I could be bound in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite
Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient
Samuel Butler 1900 CE
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale
returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
Mark Twain (Life on the Mississippi)
The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.
James Joyce, Ulysses
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule
"What are you? I have never seen anything like you." The Raven looked
at man and was surprised that this strange new being was so much like
Inuit creation story
Now that the destinies of heaven and Earth have been fixed, the banks of
the Tigris and Euphrates have been established, what else shall we
create? Oh Anunaki, you great gods of the sky, what else shall we do?
Persian creation story, 800 BCE
God is able to create particles of matter of several sizes and figures
and perhaps of different densities and forces, and thereby to vary the
laws of nature, and make worlds of several sorts in several parts of the
Where the telescope ends the microscope begins. Which of the two has the
If we could speed up our sense of time until thousands of years were
speeding by in the wink of an eye, we would see bright nebulae burst into
light, deliver themselves of a shower of stars, then fade back into
darkness. As it is we see each nebula frozen at a stage in the process.
May it not be that the brighter stars are like our Sun, the upholding and
energizing centers of systems of living beings?
William Huggins 1865 CE
The rest of the planets have their dress and furniture, nay and their
inhabitants too, as well as this Earth of ours.
Christiaan Huygens 1690 CE
Men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to
themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise.
H.G. Wells 1897 CE
The Universe is populated by innumerable suns, innumerable earths, and
perhaps, innumerable forms of life. That thought expresses the essence
of the Copernican revolution. No revelation more striking has ever come
from the scientific mind.
Robert Jastrow 1989 CE
Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum
star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe
in which there are far more galaxies than people.
To someone who could grasp the Universe from a unified standpoint the
entire creation would appear as a unique truth and necessity.
J. d'Alembert 1772 CE
The best thing we're put here for's to see;
The strongest thing that's given us to see with's a telescope.
Someone in every town, seems to me, owes it to the town to keep one.
Robert Frost, The Star Splitter
That star is not on the chart!
Heinrich d'Arrest upon discovering Neptune, 1846 CE
Young man, I am afraid you are wasting your time. If there were any more
planets they would have been found long before this.
Visiting astronomer to Clyde Tombaugh before he discovered Pluto, 1929 CE
Final log entry, Lowell Observatory, 1916 CE
One thing I have learned in a long life, that all our science, measured
against reality, is primitive and childlike, and yet it is the most precious thing we have.
Albert Einstein, 1946 CE
A rocket explorer named Wright,
Once traveled much faster than light.
He set out one day, in a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.
Railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of fifteen miles per
hour by engines which, in addition to endangering life and limb of
passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting
fire to the crops, scaring the livestock, and frightening women and
children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should
travel at such break-neck speed.
President Martin Van Buren, 1829 CE
Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which man will never
be able to cope.
Simon Newcomb, c. 1900 CE
The popular mind often pictures gigantic flying machines speeding across
the Atlantic carrying innumerable passengers in a way analogous to our
modern steamships. It seems safe to say that such ideas are wholly
William H. Pickering, astronomer 1910 CE
We hope the Professor from Clark College (Robert H. Goddard) is only
pretending to be ignorant of elementary physics if he thinks that a
rocket can work in a vacuum.
Editorial, The New York Times 1920 CE
There will certainly be no lack of human pioneers when we have mastered
the art of flight....Let us create vessels and sails adjusted to the
heavenly ether, and there will be plenty of people unafraid of the empty
wastes. In the meantime we shall prepare, for the brave sky-travelers, maps of the celestial bodies.
Johannes Kepler 1610 CE
For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it, but looking
at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black
dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself,
shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots
on the map of France?
Vincent Van Gogh 1889 CE
Before another century is done it will be hard for people to imagine a
time when humanity was confined to one world, and it will seem to them
incredible that there was ever anybody who doubted the value of space and
wanted to turn his or her back on the Universe.
Isaac Asimov, 1979 CE
We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community
of galactic civilizations.
President Jimmy Carter, 1977 CE
As chairman of the Senate subcommittee responsible for NASA
appropriations, I say not a penny for this nutty fantasy.
William Proxmire, 1977 CE
"You're out of your mind!" I told myself, hanging onto a ship in space,
and getting ready to admire a sunrise.
Valeri Ryumin, USSR
Suddenly I saw a meteor go by underneath me.
Jeff Hoffman, USA
I raised the visor on my helmet cover and looked out to try to identify
constellations. As I looked out into space, I was overwhelmed by the
darkness. I felt the flesh crawl on my back and the hair rise on my
William Pogue, USA
It was a texture. The blackness was so intense.
Charles Duke, USA
Frequently on the lunar surface I said to myself, "This is the Moon, that
is the Earth. I'm really here, I'm really here!"
Alan Bean, USA
Ah! You see one Earth, you've seen them all.
Jack Schmitt, Lunar Module Pilot
In space everything is different, you sleep on the ceiling.
Anatoli Berezovoy, USSR
Straddled comfortably on the vacuum cleaner, I rode around the Salyut
Yuri Artyukhin, USSR
We flew throughout the summer and fall and the start of winter. At first
the whiteness gave way to the green of summer, and then gold covered the
fields and forests, and then the whiteness again.
Anatoli Berezovoy, USSR
We were flying over America and suddenly I saw snow, the first snow we
ever saw from orbit. I have never visited America, but I imagined that
the arrival of autumn and winter is the same there as in other places,
and the process of getting ready for them is the same. And then it
struck me that we are all children of our Earth.
Aleksandr Aleksandrov, USSR
I see Earth. It is so beautiful.
Yuri A. Gagarin, first words in space, April 12, 1961 CE
Sometimes I have a terrible need of, shall I say the word, religion. Then
I go out at night and paint the stars.
Vincent Van Gogh 1888 CE
The Universe is a pretty thing, a real pretty thing.
Keystone Astronomers 1988 CE
Collection assembled by Brad Snowder