Brexit: The View from the Moon

Edgar Mitchell steps onto the powdery grey surface, plumes of dust swirling around his feet. The land, empty except for rocks and shadows, stretches to rolling hills and a close horizon. Above him, the huge blue and white disk gleams in the black sky.

‘You develop an instant global consciousness,’ he told people after he’d returned to Earth. ‘From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.”’

The Brexit referendum has encouraged some of us in Britain to see, like Mitchell, the world from a new perspective. If we are not going to be part of the European Union, what should we be part of? If we are to remain inside the EU, what are our reasons for subverting the vote? Where is our home — Britain, Europe, or the world?

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Looking for Mars

For my birthday last year my Dad took me to the Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux in Sussex. It was the site of the Royal Observatory between the 1957 and 1990, after it moved out of London to escape light pollution. Most of the buildings have since been converted into a science museum, but the six telescopes are still there, and on special open evenings expert hobbyists use them to look at the stars and planets.

I particularly wanted to look at Mars. I had been working on a Mars writing project for over a year, and for research reasons – as well as pleasure – my reading diet was almost exclusively Mars-based. I had come to know Mars pretty well. But I had never actually seen it.

Seeing Mars with my own eyes would, I hoped, bridge the gap that lay between my ideas of the place and its reality: between all the ideas and images drawn from fiction and non-fiction floating in my head, and the actual, solid, brute-fact of Mars.

It would be like seeing a famous celebrity in person for the first time. Actually, it would be like looking at a famous celebrity through a long-range telescope, but that just sounds creepy.

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