A Prayer

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It deals with a game that [Theodore] Roosevelt and I used to play at Sagamore Hill. After an evening of talk, perhaps about the fringes of knowledge, or some new possibility of climbing inside the minds and senses of animals, we would go out on the lawn, where we took turns at an amusing little astronomical rite. We searched until we found, with or without glasses, the faint, heavenly spot of light-mist beyond the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus, when one or the other of us would then recite:

That is the Spiral Galaxy of Andromeda.
It is as large as our Milky Way.
It is one of a hundred million galaxies.
It is 750,000 light-years away.
It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.

After an interval Colonel Roosevelt would grin at me and say: ‘Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.’

– William Beebe, The Book of Naturalists, 1944

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