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Eyes Turned Skyward: Space Quotes
A star gazing, rocket riding, moon walking quote collection

Wonder & Magic of Space

 


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Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another.

— Plato, The Republic, 342 BCE.

To be glad of life, because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.

— Henry Van Dyke, The Herald of Gospel Liberty, 12 August 1909.

The contemplation of celestial things will make a man both speak and think more sublimely and magnificently when he descends to human affairs.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero, c. 30 BCE

This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o—erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire.

— Hamlet, Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2, William Shakespeare, c. 1600.

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, journal entry, 25 May 1843.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.|

— Paul Hawkens. Commencement address, University of Portland, 2009.

The sky is the ultimate art gallery just above us.

— attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson

The oldest picture book in our possession is the midnight sky.

— E. W. Maunder, Nineteenth Century, September 1900.

I love to revel in philosophical mattersespecially astronomy. I study astronomy more than any other foolishness there is. I am a perfect slave to it. I am at it all the time. I have got more smoked glass than clothes. I am as familiar with the stars as the comets are. I know all the facts and figures and have all the knowledge there is concerning them. I yelp astronomy like a sun-dog, and paw the constellations like Ursa Major.

— Mark Twain, letter to the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, 1 August 1869.

Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future.

— H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, 1895.

The wonder is, not that the field of stars of so vast, but that man has measured it.

Anatole France, The Garden of Epicurus, 1894.

The Universe, so far as we can observe it, is a wonderful and immense engine; its extent, its order, its beauty, its cruelty, makes it alike impressive.

— George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1916.

Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.

— Edwin Hubble, The Nature of Science, 1954.

There is beauty in space, and it is orderly. There is no weather, and there is regularity. It is predictable. Just look at our little Explorer; you can set your clock by it—literally; it is more accurate than your clock. Everything in space obeys the laws of physics. If you know these laws, and obey them, space will treat you kindly.

— Wernher von Braun, quoted in 'Space: Reach for the Stars', Time magazine, 17 February 1958.

To be able to rise from the earth;
to be able, from a station in outer space,
to see the relationship of the planet earth to other planets;
to be able to contemplate the billions of factors in precise and beautiful combination that make human existence possible;
to be able to dwell on an encounter of the human brain and spirit with the universe
all this enlarges the human horizon . . .

— Norman Cousins, 1973.

Above me I saw something I did not believe at first. Well above the haze layer of the earth's atmosphere were additonal faint thin bands of blue, sharply etched against the dark sky. They hovered over the earth like a succession of halos.

— David G. Simons, first balloon ride above 100,000 feet, 'A Journey No Man Had Taken,' LIFE magazine, 2 September 1957.

We're at 103,000 feet. Looking out over a very beautiful, beautiful world . . . a hostile sky. As you look up the sky looks beautiful but hostile. As you sit here you realize that Man will never conquer space. He will learn to live with it, but he will never conquer it. Can see for over 400 miles. Beneath me I can see the clouds. . . . They are beautiful . . . looking through my mirror the sky is absolutely black. Void of anything. . . . I can see the beautiful blue of the sky and above that it goes into a deep, deep, dark, indescribable blue which no artist can ever duplicate. It's fantastic.

— Joe Kittinger, in the Excelsior III balloon over the western edge of the Tularose Basin, just before parachuting to ground, 16 August 1960.

Joseph Kittinger

We need to have people up there who can communicate what it feels like, not just pilots and engineers.

— Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr), quoted in The Real Mars, 2004

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

— Gene Roddenberry, spoken by Captain James T. Kirk (William shatner) at the start of every episode of the original TV series Star Trek. The last line came from Introduction to Outer Space, a 26 March 1958 White House document written by Dwight D. Eisenhower's newly created Presidential Science Advisory Committee: "the compelling urge of man to explore and to discover, the thrust of curiosity that leads men to try to go where no one has gone before.—'

I'm interested in man's march into the unknown but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash with the vomit hovering over me.

— William Shatner, the actor who played Captain James T. Kirk, regards offer by Richard Branson to fly on Virgin Galactic, Daily Mail newspaper, 6 September 2006.

I had the ambition to not only go farther than man had gone before, but to go as far as it was possible to go.

— Captain Cook

Treading the soil of the moon, palpating its pebbles, tasting the panic and splendor of the event, feeling in the pit of one's stomach the separation from Terrathese form the most romantic sensation an explorer has ever known . . . this is the only thing I can say about the matter. The utilitarian results do not interest me.

— Vladimir Nabokov, regards the first moon landing, the New York Times, 21 July 1969.

It [the rocket] will free man from his remaining chains, the chains of gravity which still tie him to this planet. It will open to him the gates of heaven.

— Wernher von Braun, 'The Jupiter People,' Time magazine, 10 February 1958.

God has no intention of setting a limit to the efforts of man to conquer space.

— Pope Pius XII

I looked and looked but I didn't see God.

— Yuri Gagarin (Юрий Алексеевич Гагарин), 14 April 1961. Quoted in W. Lee To Rise from Earth (1996); Variant: There are also websites which quote him as saying "I looked and looked and looked but I didn't see God."

think a future flight should include a poet, a priest and a philosopher . . .  we might get a much better idea of what we saw.

— Michael Collins, 9 November 1969

How quickly do we grow accustomed to wonders. I am reminded of the Isaac Asimov story Nightfall, about the planet where the stars were visible only once in a thousand years. So awesome was the sight that it drove men mad. We who can see the stars every night glance up casually at the cosmos and then quickly down again, searching for a Dairy Queen.

—  Roger Ebert

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.

— Galileo Galilei. This is a paraphrase of a translation from Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632). A longer translation is "For when the sun draws up some vapors here, or warms a plant there, it draws these and warms this as if it had nothing else to do. Even in ripening a bunch of grapes, or perhaps just a single grape, it applies itself so effectively that it could not do more even if the goal of all its affairs were just the ripening of this one grape."

Be humble for you are made of earth.
Be noble for you are made of stars.

Serbian proverb

Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. . . .
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

— Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses, 1842.

Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.

— Inscription on Columbus' caravels

Telescopes are in some ways like time machines. They reveal galaxies so far away that their light has taken billions of years to reach us. We in astronomy have an advantage in studying the universe, in that we can actually see the past. We owe our existence to stars, because they make the atoms of which we are formed. So if you are romantic you can say we are literally starstuff. If you're less romantic you can say we're the nuclear waste from the fuel that makes stars shine. We've made so many advances in our understanding. A few centuries ago, the pioneer navigators learnt the size and shape of our Earth, and the layout of the continents. We are now just learning the dimensions and ingredients of our entire cosmos, and can at last make some sense of our cosmic habitat.

— Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal of Great Britian.

Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens.... My grandfather would say we're part of something incredibly wonderful - more marvelous than we imagine. My grandfather would say we ought to go out and look at it once in a while so we don't lose our place in it.

— Robert Fulghum

It seemed to be a necessary ritual that he should prepare himself for sleep by meditating under the solemnity of the night sky... a mysterious transaction between the infinity of the soul and the infinity of the universe.

— Victor Hugo

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

— Psalm 19:1-6. (New International Version)

Learn to reverence night and to put away the vulgar fear of it, for, with the banishment of night from the experience of man, there vanishes as well a religious emotion, a poetic mood, which gives depth to the adventure of humanity. By day, space is one with the earth and with man - it is his sun that is shining, his clouds that are floating past; at night, space is his no more. When the great earth, abandoning day, rolls up the deeps of the heavens and the universe, a new door opens for the human spirit, and there are few so clownish that some awareness of the mystery of being does not touch them as they gaze. For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars - pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time. Fugitive though the instant be, the spirit of man is, during it, ennobled by a genuine moment of emotional dignity, and poetry makes its own both the human spirit and experience.

— Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1933.

Space is to place as eternity is to time.

— Joseph Joubert

Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.

— Walt Whitman

Why should we try for space travel? It cannot be a substance of any kind that can be expected to pay. It can only be something intangible, not involving haulage, which is at the same time more valuable. There is something like that: Knowledge.

— Willy Ley, 1945.

The beep beep sound of Sputnik (mp3)

— 4 October 1957.

Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his hereditary skies.

— Ovid

Per Ardua, Ad Astra.

— "Through struggles, To the stars." Motto of the Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. This phrase was used by Virgil in the 'Aeneid,' and also seen in H. Rider Haggard's novel 'The People of the Mist.' First selected and approved as the motto for the Royal Flying Corps on 15 March 1913.

Per Aspera, Ad Astra.

 — "Through hardships, To the stars." Motto of NASA and the South African Air Force. From Seneca the Younger.  Ad Astra is the title of the National Space Society magazine.

Don't tell me that man doesn't belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to goand he'll do plenty well when he gets there.

— Wernher von Braun, quoted in 'Space: Reach for the Stars', Time magazine, 17 February 1958.

Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.

— William Burroughs, Civilian Defense, 1985

The one necessary and sufficient reason we are called to the Space Frontier is buried deep within us.it is a feeling . . . [a] calling to go, to see, to do, to be —there.— We believe Homo Sapiens is a frontier creature. it is what we do, it defines what we are.

— Rick Tumlinson, Introduction—Who We are (Message 2 of the Frontier Files), 1995.

We are on a journey to keep an appointment with whatever we are.

— Gene Roddenberry

It's human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is not a choice, really; it's an imperative.

— Michael Collins

To go places and do things that have never been done beforethat's what living is all about.

— Michael Collins

Once the hatch was opened, I turned the lock handle and bright rays of sunlight burst through it. I opened the hatch and dust from the station flew in like little sparklets, looking like tiny snowflakes on a frosty day. Space, like a giant vacuum cleaner, began to suck everything out. Flying out together with the dust were some little washers and nuts that dad got stuck somewhere; a pencil flew by.
My first impression when I opened the hatch was of a huge Earth and of the sense of unreality concerning everything that was going on. Space is very beautiful. There was the dark velvet of the sky, the blue halo of the Earth and fast-moving lakes, rivers, fields and clouds clusters. It was dead silence all around, nothing whatever to indicate the velocity of the flight . . . no wind whistling in your ears, no pressure on you. The panorama was very serene and majestic.

— Valentin Lebedev, describing his spacewalk of 30 July 1982.

Space flights are merely an escape, a fleeing away from oneself, because it is easier to go to Mars or to the Moon that it is to penetrate one's own being.

— Carl Gustav Jung, quoted in M. Serrano's The Farewell (1966).

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

— Psalms 19:1

It is a pity, in an age of rockets and space telescopes, that so few people have a direct acquaintance with the stars. Learning the stars and following their nightly courses across the sky brings a deep satisfaction born of familiarity with something both ancient and ageless.

— Richard Berry, Discover the Stars, 1987.

I know the stars are my home. I learned about them, needed them for survival in terms of navigation. I know where I am when I look up at the sky. I know where I am when I look up at the Moon; it's not just some abstract romantic idea, it's something very real to me. See, I've expanded my home.

— Eugene Cernan, astronaut and moonwalker, Life magazine, November 1988.

I cannot join the space program and restart my life as an astronaut, but this opportunity to connect my abilities as an educator with my interests in history and space is a unique opportunity to fulfill my early fantasies. I watched the space program being born, and I would like to participate.

— Christa McAuliffe, teacher, from her winning essay in NASA's nationwide search for the first teacher to travel in space, released after her death with six others aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Suddenly I saw a meteor go by underneath me. A moment later I found myself think, that can't be a meteor. Meteors burn up in the atmosphere above us; this was below us. Then, of course, the realization hit me.

— Jeffrey Hoffman.

Found a more interesting job.

— unusual reason given by Sergei Krikalev for cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov deciding not to return to the ISS in 2015. Reported by RiaNovosti news, 5 September 2013

The flight experience itself is incredible. It’s addictive. It’s transcendent. It is a view of the grand plan of all things that is simply unforgettable.

— Scott Carpenter, astronaut. Interview with the Rocky Mountain News.

I wondered how I was ever going to get my work done because I just wanted to stay glued to the window.

— Richard Searfoss, astronaut, interview in The Guardian newspaper, 30 July 2013.

But since time slows down aboard the starship, according to Einstein's special theory of relativity, the crew could reach the Pleiades star-cluster (M45), which is 400 light-years away, in as little as eleven years, by the clocks aboard the starship. After 25 shipboard years, such a ship could even reach the Great Andromeda Galaxy - although over 2 million years would have passed on the earth.
Wormholes were first introduced to the public over a century ago in a book written by an Oxford mathematician. Perhaps realizing that adults might frown on the idea of multiply connected spaces, he wrote the book under a pseudonym and wrote it for children. His name was Charles Dodgson, his pseudonym was Lewis Carroll, and the book was Through The Looking Glass.

— Michio Kaku, Visions - How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century, 1997.

If there were beings who had always lived beneath the earth, in comfortable, well-lit dwellings, decorated with statues and pictures and furnished with all the luxuries enjoyed by persons thought to be supremely happy, and who though they had never come forth above the ground had learnt by report and by hearsay of the existence of certain deities and divine powers; and then if at some time the jaws of the earth were opened and they were able to escape from their hidden abode and to come forth into the regions which we inhabit; when they suddenly had sight of the earth and the seas and the sky, and came to know of the vast clouds and mighty winds, and beheld the sun, and realized not only its size and beauty but also its potency in causing the day by shedding light all over the sky, and, after night had darkened the earth, they then saw the whole sky spangled with stars, and the changing phases of the moon's light, now waxing and now waning, and the risings and settings of all these heavenly bodies and their courses fixed and changeless throughout all eternity, — when they saw these things, surely they would think that the gods exist and that these mighty marvels are their handiwork.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero, c. 30 B.C

The human space program has existed in the collective unconscious of humanity since the dawn of awareness.

— Frank White, The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, 1987.

Whoever it was who searched the heavens with a telescope and found no God would not have found the human mind if he had searched the brain with a microscope.

— George Santayana

The mass gross absence of sound in space is more than just silence.

— Eugene Cernan

You almost wish you could turn off the COMM and just appreciate the deafening quiet.

— Russell Schweickart

What the space program needs is more English majors.

— Michael Collins

It's not quite as exhilarating a feeling as orbiting the earth, but it's close. In addition, it has an exotic, bizarre quality due entirely to the nature of the surface below. The earth from orbit is a delight - offering visual variety and an emotional feeling of belonging "down there." Not so with this withered, sun-seared peach pit out of my window. There is no comfort to it; it is too stark and barren; its invitation is monotonous and meant for geologists only.

— Michael Collins, Carrying the Fire.

To set foot on the soil of the asteroids, to lift by hand a rock from the Moon, to observe Mars from a distance of several tens of kilometers, to land on its satellite or even on its surface, what can be more fantastic? From the moment of using rocket devices a new great era will begin in astronomy: the epoch of the more intensive study of the firmament.

— Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, Father of Russian Astronautics, 1896.

The greatest gain from space travel consists in the extension of our knowledge. In a hundred years this newly won knowledge will pay huge and unexpected dividends.

— Wernher von Braun.

The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago ... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.

— Havelock Ellis, The Dance of Life, 1923.

We believe that when men reach beyond this planet, they should leave their national differences behind them.

— John F. Kennedy, news conference, 21 February 1962

During the period of the Saturn-Apollo missions we were pilgrims in space, ranging from home in search of knowledge. Now we will become shepherds tending our technological flocks, but like the shepherds of old, we will keep our eyes fixed on the heavens.

— President Jimmy Carter, 1978.

To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.

— Stephen Hawking

I'd have given my right eye to be an astronaut.

— Jacqueline Cochran, quoted in L. Yount Women Aviators.

What they want is for their space suits to look cool.

— Amy Rose, NASA space-suit engineer, regards private space companies. Fortune magazine, January 13 2014.

So let us then try to climb the mountain, not by stepping on what is below us, but to pull us up at what is above us, for my part at the stars; amen.

— M.C. Escher

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.

— Helen Keller

The second best thing about space travel is that the distances involved make war very difficult, usually impractical, and almost always unnecessary. This is probably a loss for most people, since war is our race's most popular diversion, one which gives purpose and color to dull and stupid lives. But it is a great boon to the intelligent man who fights only when he must—never for sport.

— Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough For Love, 1973.

We had the sky up there, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss whether they was made or just happened.

— Mark Twain

Every generation has the obligation to free men's minds for a look at new worlds . . .  to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.

—  Ellison S. Onizuka, born in Kealakekua, Kona, was Hawaii's first astronaut and the first Asian American in space.

I'm hungry. I want to eat something delicious, have a beer and a cigarette. I've come back to Earth full of desires. The air tastes good.

— Toyohiro Akiyama, first Japanese citizen in space, a TV journalist, first words after an unhappy eight days onboard Soyuz TM-11. 10 December 1990

The sun truly 'comes up like thunder,' and it sets just as fast. Each sunrise and sunset lasts only a few seconds. But in that time you see at least eight different bands of color come and go, from a brilliant red to the brightest and deepest blue. And you see sixteen sunrises and sixteen sunsets every day you're in space. No sunrise or sunset is ever the same.

— Joseph Allen

Suddenly, from behind the rim of the Moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea
of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth . . . home.

— Edgar Mitchell

Beam me up, Scotty

— commonly attributed to Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) in the Star Trek original TV series and movies, but never actually uttered exactly as it is now used. It is imagined to be said to the chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, when a landing crew needs to be transported back to the Starship Enterprise. In the 1986 movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home we do at least hear him say, "Scotty, beam me up." It is also possible to hear Shatner say the exact phrase in his audio adaptation of his novel Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden. James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty, used the phrase as the title of his 1996 autobiography Beam Me Up, Scotty: Star Trek's "Scotty" in his own words.

A sense of the unknown has always lured mankind and the greatest of the unknowns of today is outer space. The terrors, the joys and the sense of accomplishment are epitomized in the space program.

— William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series and movies.

Why our space program? Why, indeed, did we trouble to look past the next mountain? Our prime obligation to ourselves is to make the unknown known. We are on a journey to keep an appointment with whatever we are.

— Gene Roddenberry

The inspirational value of the space program is probably of far greater importance to education than any input of dollars....A whole generation is growing up which has been attracted to the hard disciplines of science and engineering by the romance of space.

— Arthur C. Clarke, First on the Moon, 1970.

Human interest in exploring the heavens goes back centuries. This is what human nature is all about.

— Dennis Tito, Newsweek, 6 October 2003.

We want to explore. We're curious people. Look back over history, people have put their lives at stake to go out and explore ... We believe in what we're doing. Now it's time to go.

— Eileen Collins, STS-114 commander, a few days before the re-launch of the Space Shuttle program, reported on Space.com, 11 July 2005.

Of all investments into the future, the conquest of space demands the greatest efforts and the longest-term commitment . . . but it also offers the greatest reward: none less than a universe.

— Daniel Christlein

As we got further and further away, it [the Earth] dimished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man.

— James B. Irwin, Apollo 15.

Anyone who has spent any time in space will love it for the rest of their lives. I achieved my childhood dream of the sky.

— Valentina Tereshkova (Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва).

Someday I would like to stand on the Moon, look down through a quarter of a million miles of space and say, "There certainly is a beautiful earth out tonight."

— Lieutenant Colonel William H. Rankin, The Man Who Rode the Thunder.

Unknowingly, we plow the dust of stars, blown about us by the wind, and drink the universe in a glass of rain.

—  Ihab Hassan

That night I lie out under the stars again. The Pleiades are there winking at me. I am no longer on my way from one place to another. I have changed lives. My life now is as black and white as night and day; a life of fierce struggle under the sun, and peaceful reflection under the night sky. I feel as though I am floating on a raft far, far away from any world I ever knew.

— Ted Simon, Jupiter—s Travels.

No national sovereignty rules in outer space. Those who venture there go as envoys of the entire human race. Their quest, therefore, must be for all mankind, and what they find should belong to all mankind.

— President Lyndon B. Johnson, news conference, 29 August 1965.

Centuries hence, when current social and political problems may seem as remote as the problems of the Thirty Years' War are to us, our age may be remembered chiefly for one fact: It was the time when the inhabitants of the earth first made contact with the vast cosmos in which their small planet is embedded.

— Carl Sagan, Scientific American magazine, March 1975

Many say exploration is part of our destiny, but it's actually our duty to future generations and their quest to ensure the survival of the human species.

— Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr), on the 37th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Landing, July 2006

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention and the first wave of nuclear power. And this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be part of itwe mean to lead it.

— President John F. Kennedy

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

— William Wordsworth, 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' (also known as 'The Daffodils'), 1804.

Teach me your mood,
O patient stars.
Who climb each night,
the ancient sky.
leaving on space no shade, no scars,
no trace of age, no fear to die.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Poet, written between 1841 and 1843.

If you want to see a picture painted as only the hand of God can paint, go with me to Saturn.

— John H. Thayer, Popular Astronomy magazine, March 1919.

We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

— Oscar Wilde, spoken by Lord Darlington in the play Lady Windermere's Fan, first performed on 22 February 1892, and published in 1893.

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant

—  T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets, 1940.

Outer space is no place for a person of breeding.

— Lady Violet Bonham Carter

Space-ships and time machines are no escape from the human condition. Let Othello subject Desdemona to a lie-detector test; his jealousy will still blind him to the evidence. Let Oedipus triumph over gravity; he won't triumph over his fate.

— Arthur Koestler

I would not say that female cosmonauts are not welcomed in the Russian space program. I must say, however, that all spaceflight hardware, including spacesuits and spacecraft comfort assuring systems, were designed mostly by men and for men.

— Valentina Tereshkova (Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва), first woman in space, 1963.

If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can't they fly in space?

— Valentina Tereshkova (Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва).

What are we doing here? We're reaching for the stars.

— Christa McAuliffe, regards entering the astronaut program, Time magazine 10 February 1986.

Without women, we stood in space on one leg only.

— Vladimir Dzanibekov, Soviet cosmonaut, regards the first space walk by a woman, The London Times, 11 August 1984.

I can't remember a single time [my parents] ever told me not to do something I wanted to do.

— Sally Ride, quoted in L. Yount Women Aviators.

I wanted to be a hairdresser when I grew up. I'd sit on the back of the sofa and my mother would sit in front of me, and as long as it didn't involve scissors or dye, she'd let me do whatever I wanted to her hair. All the women in my life were nurses, hairdressers, or secretaries, and that's why I thought my father would not support me in being a pilot. I can remember asking him, "what would you think if I told you I wanted to be a pilot when I grew up?" expecting him to say no or disagree. He said, "I think that would be fantastic." Had he not said those words, I don't know what would have happened to me.

— Susan Still, Lieutenant, United States Navy, Combat Pilot and Astronaut, quoted in C. Russo Women And Flight, 1997.

She's decisive, she's aggressive, she's proven she's capable with high-performance jets. We look for people with the capability to think on their feet and to be able to lead a team of people. We look for the best pilots out there, and if they happen to be women, great, but we're just looking for the best.

— David Leestma, director of flight crew operations, Johnson Space Center. Regarding Astronaut Susan Still, 1997.

I'm honored to be the first woman to have the opportunity to command the shuttle. I don't really think about that on a day-to-day basis because I really don't need to.

— Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, first female Space Shuttle commander, 24 June 1999.

There was my mom and I had a wife for a long time and now there is my fianc—e. Eileen is in a long line of women who have given me orders.

— Jeffrey S. Ashby, shuttle pilot regards flying under Eileen Collins' command.

My daughter just thinks that all moms fly the Space Shuttle

— Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, first female Space Shuttle commander, 1999.

I think it is interesting that we have come back to star- and space ships. Jet will do for a transport shorthand; yet when man really reaches, across the vast seas of space, he still reaches in ships.

— John Fowles, Shipwreck, 1974.

If our long-term survival is at stake, we have a basic responsibility to our species to venture to other worlds. Sailors on a becalmed sea, we sense the stirring of a breeze.

— Carl Sagan, To The Sky, 1994.

I have a hunch the most important reason we're going to space is not known now.

— Burt Rutan, Time magazine, 5 March 2007.

It is humanities destiny to explore the universe. When we start thinking and working on that cosmic level, we will transcend our parochial differences and tribal natures and become global creatures, solar system creatures. Then we will figure out where we fit in.

— Story Musgrove

Once you get to earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system.

— attributed to Robert A. Heinlein by many people (including NASA's 2003 Astronaut Fact Book), but source unknown.

We used to joke about canned men, putting people in a can and seeing how far you can send them and bring them back. That's not the purpose of this program... Space is a laboratory, and we go into it to work and learn the new.

— John Glenn Jr.

To get your name well enough known that you can run for a public office, some people do it by being great lawyers or philanthropists or business people or work their way up the political ladder. I happened to become known from a different route.

— John Glenn Jr.

Flying through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy. Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova, and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?

— Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford), scolding Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), in the 1977 movie Star Wars.

I didn't care if I was first, 50th, or 500th in space. I just wanted to go.

— Dennis Tito, first space tourist, during Mir training over a year prior to launch, USA Today 20 June 2000.

We are very happy to accompany you to space. We like your mathematical mind. And we more like your romantic soul.

— Yuri Baturin, cosmonaut flight engineer, regards Dennis Tito, Newsweek magazine, April 2001.

You are not a baby. I am not a babysitter. I am commander. You are 'first cosmonaut tourist,' an 'engineer in education.' It is very important for mankind.

— Talgat Musabayev, cosmonaut commander, regards Dennis Tito, Newsweek magazine, April 2001.

The experience was more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. I have a newfound sense of wonder seeing the Earth and stars from such an incredible perspective. Certainly, through my training I was prepared for the technical aspects, but I had no idea that I would be flooded with such amazement and joy after seeing my first sunrise and sunset from space.

— Greg Olsen, space tourist, a technology entrepreneur who paid $20 million to spend 10 days at the International Space Station, on landing, 10 October 2005.

I would spend hours and hours gazing at the stars and wondering, what's out there? Sometimes I wondered if . . .  maybe there was another girl like me on another planet some place gazing at the stars and thinking about the same things.

— Anousheh Ansari, preparing to be the first female space tourist and first Iranian in space. A few weeks before launch, 1 September 2006.

The next time I go into space, I'll be able to take my family with me.

— Kathryn Thornton, former NASA astronaut regards space tourism. 2006.

You're in charge but don't touch the controls.

— Shannon Lucid, recounting what the two Russian cosmonauts told her every time they left the Mir space station for a spacewalk, 1996.

The only thing it would be nice to have more of would be M & M's.

— Shannon Lucid, after 6 months on Space Station Mir, 1996.

It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.

— Alan Shepherd

You're out of your mind!" I told myself, hanging onto a ship in space, and getting ready to admire a sunrise.

— Valeri Ryumin

Suddenly I saw a meteor go by underneath me.

— Jeff Hoffman

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 neck.

— William Pogue

We're floating here on the shoulders of giants. This space station is the pinnacle of human achievement and international co-operation.

— Greg Chamitoff, during the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, 27 May 2011.

It's just a bunch of junk up there.

— Harry Monroe, 1986.

One test result is worth one thousand expert opinions.

— attributed to Wernher von Braun, but also attriibuted to many others, including test pilot A. M. 'Tex' Johnston, and more recently Bill Nye 'the Science Guy.'

A man is the best computer available to place in a spacecraft . . . It is also the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.

— attributed to Werner von Braun

Our two greatest problems are gravity and paperwork. We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.

— Werner von Braun, Chicago Sun Times newspaper, 10 July 1958.

Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away, if your car could go straight upwards.

— Sir Fred Hoyle, Observer newspaper, 9 September, 1979.

Space is only 80 miles from every person on earth—far closer than most people are to their own national capitals.

— Daniel Deudney, introduction to Space: The high Frontier in Perspective, 1982.

I think it's going to be great if people can buy a ticket to fly up and see black sky and the stars. I'd like to do it myself—but probably after it has flown a serious number of times first!

—Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft regards commercial space rides, Discover magazine April 2007.

Going to space is going to be outstanding. I can't believe that's actually happening.

— Keith Colmer, newly hired Virgin Galactic pilot astronaut. interview in New Scientist, 26 October 2011. 

Man is the animal that intends to shoot himself out into interplanetary space, after having given up on the problem of an efficient way to get himself five miles or so to work and back each day.

— Bill Vaughan, Reader's Digest, January 1956.

Vision, in my view, is the cause of the greatest benefit to us, inasmuch as none of the accounts now given concerning the Universe would ever have been given if men had not seen the stars or the sun or the heavens. But as it is, the vision of day and night and of months and circling years has created the art of number and has given us not only the notion of Time but also means of research into the nature of the Universe. From these we have procured Philosophy in all its range, than which no greater boon ever has come or will come, by divine bestowal, unto the race of mortals.

— Plato, Timaeus, c. 360 BCE

It has always irked me as improper that there are still so many people for whom the sky is no more than a mass of random points of light. I do not see why we should recognize a house, a tree, or a flower here below and not, for example, the red Arcturus up there in the heavens as it hangs from its constellation Bootes, like a basket hanging from a balloon.

— M.C. Escher

The starry heaven, though it occurs so very frequently to our view, never fails to excite an idea of grandeur. This cannot be owing to the stars themselves, separately considered. The number is certainly the cause. The apparent disorder augments the grandeur, for the appearance of care is highly contrary to our ideas of magnificence. Besides, the stars lie in such apparent confusion, as makes it impossible on ordinary occasions to reckon them. This gives them the advantage of a sort of infinity.

— Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1844.

Space is the stature of God.

— Joseph Joubert, French essayist, moralist. Pens_es, no. 183,  1842

Two things inspire me to awe—the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.

— Albert Einstein

It's one of the great delights and memories for me . . . I felt like I was seeing, woven together, the power and scale of the entire world.

— Kathy Sullivan, first U.S. woman to walk in space.

In space, race doesn't matter, nationality doesn't matter. In space, you see the world as a globe and you don't see the boundaries.

— Maggie Aderin-Pocock, the new presenter for BBC's The Sky at Night. Interview in The Guardian newspaper, 20 Janruary 2014.

Space is for everybody. It's not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That's our new frontier out there, and it's everybody's business to know about space.

— Christa McAuliffe, December 6, 1985

When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.

— Kalpana Chawla

It's beyond imagination until you actually get up and see it and experience it and feel it.

— Willie McCool

It was a texture. The blackness was so intense.

— Charles Duke

The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the heavens.

— Anaxagoras, 459 BCE.

Come quickly, I am tasting stars!

— Dom Perignon, reportedly at the moment of his discovery of champagne, c. 1700. However the quote is only first seen in a print advertisement in the late 1800s.

We should do astronomy because it is beautiful and because it is fun. We should do it because people want to know. We want to know our place in the universe and how things happen.

— John N. Bahcall, Sky and Telescope magazine, January 1990.

I have a strong feeling about interesting people in space exploration. . . . And the only way it's going to happen is to have some kid fantasize about getting his ray gun, jumping into his spaceship, and flying into outer space.

— George Lucas, creator of Star Wars.

First, inevitably, the idea, the fantasy, the fairy tale. Then, scientific calculation. Ultimately, fulfillment crowns the dream.

— Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1926.

The regret on our side is, they used to say years ago, we are reading about you in science class. Now they say, we are reading about you in history class.

— Neil Armstrong, July 1999.

The urge to explore has propelled evolution since the first water creatures reconnoitered the land. Like all living systems, cultures cannot remain static; they evolve or decline. They explore or expire. . . . Beyond all rationales, space flight is a spiritual quest in the broadest sense, one promising a revitalization of humanity and a rebirth of hope no less profound than the great opening out of mind and spirit at the dawn of our modern age.

— Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr), From the Moon to the Millennium, 1999.

People want a space program that goes somewhere and does something.

— NASA administrator Michael Griffin, reported on CNN.com, 11 July 2005.

I don't see it as a risk, I see it as living.

— Victoria Principal, actress and skin-care promoter, regards her planned 2009 Virgin Galactic ride. She was the first woman to call Richard Branson and buy a US $200,000 ticket. Reported in People magazine, 18 June 2007.

Imagine we could accelerate continuously at 1 gwhat we're comfortable with on good old terra firma—to the midpoint of our voyage, and decelerate continuously at 1 g until we arrive at our destination. It would take a day to get to Mars, a week and a half to Pluto, a year to the Oort Cloud, and a few years to the nearest stars.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994.

We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.

— Carl Sagan. Cosmos, 1980.

For forty-nine months between 1968 and 1972 two dozen Americans had the great good fortune to briefly visit the Moon. Half of us became the first emissaries from Earth to tread its dusty surface. We who did so were privileged to represent the hopes and dreams of all humanity. For mankind it was a giant leap for a species that evolved from the stone age to create sophisticated rockets and spacecraft that made a Moon landing possible. For one crowning moment, we were creatures of the cosmic ocean, an epoch that a thousand years hence may be seen as the signature of our century.

— Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr)

It was a mind-blowing experience, it really was—absolutely an awesome thing. . . . As I got to the top I released a bag of M&Ms in the cockpit. It was amazing . . . Looking out that window, seeing the white clouds in the LA Basin, it looked like snow on the ground.

— Mike Melvill, first person to fly into space in a private aircraft, 21 June 2004.

I know enough about the moon to know how unpleasant and inhospitable it is. . . . I know enough about Mars to know that you can't live there, you can't settle it. Mars and the moon are two ugly islands. So then, you say, what's the point of going to them? The point is to be able to say I've been there, I've set foot on them, and I can go further to look for beautiful islands.

— Wally Schirra

Earth bound history has ended. Universal history has begun.

— Earl Hubbard

We are star-stuff.

— Carl Sagan

To find anything comparable with our forthcoming ventures into space, we must go back far beyond Columbus, far beyond Odysseus—far, indeed, beyond the first ape-man. We must contemplate the moment, now irrevocably lost in the mists of time, when the ancestor off all of us came crawling out of the sea.

— Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible, 1973.

It is certainly a wonderful, a brain-staggering conception . . . that our own stellar universe may be but one of hundreds of thousands of similar universes . . . Familiarity with these mighty concepts most certainly does not breed contempt, does not dull our awe at the mightiness of the universe in which we play so small a part. It is very doubtful if any of those who are seriously studying the heavens ever lose their feeling of reverence for this supremely wonderful universe and for Whoever or Whatever must be behind it all.

— Heber Curtis, lecture at the Lick Observatory in California, The Adolfo Stahl Lectures in Astronomy (1919), march 1917.

The pursuit of the good and evil are now linked in astronomy as in almost all science. . . . The fate of human civilization will depend on whether the rockets of the future carry the astronomer's telescope or a hydrogen bomb.

— Sir Bernard Lovell, The Individual and the Universe, 1959.

As the skies appear to a man, so is his mind. Some see only clouds there; some, prodigies and portents; some rarely look up at all; their heads, like the brutes,' are directed toward Earth. Some behold there serenity, purity, beauty ineffable. The world runs to see the panorama, when there is a panorama in the sky which few go to see.

— Henry David Thoreau, journal entry, 17 January 1852.

I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems,
All all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of the farther systems.
Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding,
Outward and outward and forever outward.

— Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855.

Too many of us have lost the passion and emotion of the remarkable things we—ve done in space. Let us not tear up the future, but rather again heed the creative metaphors that render space travel a religious experience. When the blast of a rocket launch slams you against the wall and all the rust is shaken off your body, you will hear the great shout of the universe and the joyful crying of people who have been changed by what they—ve seen.

— Ray Bradbury, quoted in R. D. Launius, The thrill of spaceflight,  Profile: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery News 4:8, 2003

O how loud
It calls devotion! genuine growth of night!
Devotion! daughter of Astronomy!
An undevout Astronomer is mad.

— Edward Young, Night Thoughts.

Astronomy is something like the ministry. No one should go into it without a call. I got that unmistakable call, and I know that even if I were second-rate or third-rate, it was astronomy that mattered.

— Edwin Hubble, quoted in S. Singh Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe (2005).

I am always surprised when a young man tells me he wants to work at cosmology; I think of cosmology as something that happens to one, not something that one can choose.

— William Hunter McCrea, presidential address to the Royal Astronomical Society, February 1963.

This is a gathering of people who haven't lost their sense of wonder. We are here for the beauty.

— Bill Williams, amateur astronomer, regards building a house at the isolated Chiefland Astronomy Village in Arizona, the New York Times, 8 June 2007.

It was a cherished experience. I feel I got the chance to see the inner workings of the grand order of things. In the overall scheme of things, it proves that men can do about anything they want to if they work hard enough at it.

— Scott Carpenter, astronaut, Mercury-Atlas 7. Interview for the Johnson Space Center Oral History Project, 30 March 1998.

Dr. Gillian Taylor: Don't tell me, you're from outer space.
Captain Kirk: No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space.

— Kirk played by William Shatner, Taylor played by Catherine Hicks, in the 1986 movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

The universe is wider than our views of it.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854.

I know that I am mortal and ephemeral. But when I search for the close-knit encompassing convolutions of the stars, my feet no longer touch the earth, but in the presence of Zeus himself I take my fill of ambrosia which the gods produce.

— Ptolemy, quoted by Johannes Kepler in Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596).

Of all tools, an observatory is the most sublime. . . . What is so good in a college as an observatory? The sublime attaches to the door and to the first stair you ascent, that this is the road to the stars.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, 14 November 1865.

We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens. . . .  The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens are so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.

— Johannes Kepler, in his dedication to Mysterium Cosmographicum, 1596.

I'm really excited. It feels really good.

— Kathryn Gray, the youngest person to discover a supernova (SN2010lt in UGC 3378), age 10. Reported by the BBC, 4 January 2011.

 

Eyes Turned Skyward: Space Quotes

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