SET AGAINST A GLOWING SKY AND A DAZZLING PANORAMA of Barcelona city lights, creative courses ushered in the nightfall. It was around 9pm on a Saturday and we appreciated the drop in temperature on the Collserolla hills, where the Fabra Observatory hosts Sopars amb Estrelles through the summer months.
The dinners begin on the terrace, offering astronomy-inspired gastronomy through a selection of degustation menus. What follows is a tour of the observatory, inaugurated in 1904, and ever since been home to the 1904 Mailhat telescope: the oldest and largest telescope still in use in Europe. With clear skies, we had a chance to peer through the 1904 Mailhat and observe the distant heavens. We did not look at any stars but we did see Jupiter, aglow and afloat in pitch-black infinity.
It was a quick, wonderful, spectacular blur, trying to make out surface details and then being conscious not to keep everyone else waiting their turn. Unlike celestial bodies, we earthlings share a much smaller space, with a much larger group of others to share with. We are never really without company. So while it is at once empowering and belittling to see something that is millions of miles away, it is ultimately comforting to recognize that great distances exist, and that a void exists, but that neither of them in fact exist among us unless we create them.
Looking down at our screens so much nowadays, it may be a good idea to look up sometimes and observe something inspiring. "Astronomy," as it is argued in book seven of Plato's The Republic, "compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another." Yeah that, plus a good dinner. We are still earthlings after all.
Sopars amb Estrelles, Barcelona www.soparsambestrelles.cat Photos by Lady San Pedro and Jaime Sese.