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I prefer to keep my feet firmly placed on the ground.  Even as a child, I refused to stand on anything high and roller coasters were out of the question.  A family trip to Disney World in the fifth grade consisted of much time sitting on park benches in protest while everyone else enjoyed the rides.  I've never had an interest in rock climbing and believe that every time I ride in a plane there is a 50/50 chance the plane crashes to the ground.  And I never had an interest in space exploration.  I have quite a nice time on earth and have no curiosity for the stars and planets.  That is until this past weekend. 

My husband planned a surprise late Valentine's celebration to go to the Houston Symphony and attend the opening weekend of their new concert, "Orbit."  I was told that it was images of space set to symphony music, and while I love the symphony, the photos of space seemed less interesting.

When we arrived at the theatre, there were mock set ups of space ships and a real space suit.  Even some docents were dressed as astronauts to set the feel of the evening.  Slightly gimmicky, I thought, space just can't be that cool.  There's a lot of blackness, lots of stars and some other spheres, right?  The first half of the concert was regular symphony instrumentals and prior to the start they introduced two astronauts who were in space in 2011.  I guess that seemed kind of neat, seeing as how few astronauts exist and now the number of astronauts I have seen in real life totals two. 

The second half began with "Orbit."  The first image appeared and I was blown away.  I had no earthly idea (excuse the pun) that there was so much beauty beyond what can be seen from the ground.  Swirling clouds sped past entire continents and sparkles darted throughout, signaling electric storms.  Amazing colors of red, yellow and blue swirled over other planets.  As more images spanned the screen I noticed a strange familiarity to them.  It struck me, these images look like images I have seen on the microscope.  Some resembled vibrant bone marrow aspirates and the more brightly lit ones looked like immunofluorescent stained images of brain tissue.  I was blown away by how the smallest visions of life reflect the vastness of the universe.  Often the disciplines of science and veterinary medicine appear to be full of facts or the unsightly look of a damaged and diseased animal, but what many don't realize is that our profession is also full of so much beauty.  I now have a deeper appreciation for the unexpected splendor in veterinary medicine.  Maybe space isn't so boring after all either.

Here is a link to NASA's website with images from space

Here is a link to a gallery of microscope images from IHC World

It is amazing how similar they look!