This object, known as Messier 54, could be just another globular cluster, but this dense and faint group of stars was in fact the first globular cluster found that lies outside our own galaxy. Discovered by the famous astronomer Charles Messier in 1778, Messier 54 belongs to a satellite of the Milky Way called the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy. Messier had no idea of the significance of his discovery at the time, and it wasn't until over two centuries later, in 1994, that astronomers found Messier 54 to be part of the miniature galaxy and not our own. Current estimates indicate that the Sagittarius dwarf, and hence the cluster, is situated almost 90,000 light-years away -- more than three times as far from the center of our galaxy than the Solar System. Ironically, even though this globular cluster is now understood to lie outside the Milky Way, it will actually become part of it in the future. The strong gravitational pull of our galaxy is slowly engulfing the Sagittarius dwarf, which will eventually merge with the Milky Way creating one much larger galaxy.
But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence
than in the answer to a question.
Eternity is in the present.
Eternity is in the palm of the hand.
Eternity is a seed of fire,
whose sudden roots beak barriers
that keep my heart from being an abyss.
The things of Time are in connivance with eternity.
The shadows serve You.
The beasts sing to You before they pass away.
The solid hills shall vanish like a worn-out garment.
All things change, and die and disappear.
Questions arrive, assume their actuality, and also disappear.
In this hour I shall cease to ask them,
and silence shall be my answer.
The world that Your love created,
and that my mind is always misinterpreting,
shall cease to interfere with our voices.
With You there is no dialogue
unless You choose a mountain and circle it with cloud
and print Your words in fire upon the mind of Moses.
What was delivered to Moses on tablets of stone,
as the fruit of lightning and thunder,
is now more thoroughly born in our own souls
as quietly as the breath of our own being.
The hand lies open. The heart is dumb.
The soul that held my substance together,
like a hard gem in the hollow of my own power,
will one day give in.
Although I see the stars, I no longer pretend to know them.
One by one I shall forget the names of individual things.
-Thomas Merton, "Fire Watch", Sign of Jonas