It must be a very dour and pessimistic astronomer indeed who seriously doubts that there must be countless numbers of intelligent civilizations scattered throughout the universe on other planets which are orbiting around other stars. An attitude which asserts that man is the only intelligent life form in the universe is intolerably arrogant today ... anyone who holds such an opinion today is, fortunately for those who like to see some progress in human conceptions, something of an intellectual freak equivalent to a believer in the Flat Earth Theory.
I cannot agree with any astronomer who insists that all of these things are mirages, planets, clouds, or illusions. The majority of the people are articulate enough to tell their stories and sincere enough to make depositions before notaries public. Even scientists concede that these folk saw something.
Whether you are an astronomer or a life scientist, geophysicist, or a pilot, you've got to be there because you believe you are good in your field, and you can contribute, not because you are going to get a lot of fame or whatever when you get back.
Just as the spectroscope opened up a new astronomy by enabling the astronomer to determine some of the constituents of which distant stars are composed, so the seismograph, recording the unfelt motion of distant earthquakes, enables us to see into the earth and determine its nature with as great a certainty, up to a certain point, as if we could drive a tunnel through it and take samples of the matter passed through.
Exact science and its practical movements are no checks on the greatest poet, but always his encouragement and support ... The sailor and traveller, the anatomist, chemist, astronomer, geologist, phrenologist, spiritualist, mathematician, historian and lexicographer are not poets, but they are the lawgivers of poets and their construction underlies the structure of every perfect poem.
I read not so long ago about the construction of a large telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert, where rainfall can average a millimetre a year and the air is fifty times as dry as the air in Death Valley. Needless to say, skies over the Atacama are pristine. The pilgrim astronomer ventures to the earth's ravaged reaches in order to peer more keenly at other worlds, and I suppose the novelist is up to something similar.