I started Tau Zero by Poul Anderson the other night, and was struck by his description of the size of the universe as a ship is about to launch out into it — so much so that I scribbled down one of the lines into a notebook, half-asleep. Here it is (emphasis mine), too good to keep to myself:
Staring away from sun and planet, you saw a crystal darkness huger than you dared comprehend. It did not appear totally black; there were light reflections within your eyeballs, if nowhere else; but it was the final night, that our kindly sky holds from us. The stars thronged it, unwinking, their brilliance winter-cold. Those sufficiently luminous to be seen from the ground showed their colors clear in space: steel-blue Vega, golden Capella, ember of Betelgeuse. And if you were not trained, the lesser members of the galaxy that had become visible were so many as to drown the familiar constellations. The night was wild with suns.
And the Milky Way belted heaven with ice and silver; and the Magellanic Clouds were not vague shimmers but roiling and glowing; and the Andromeda Galaxy gleamed sharp across more than a million light-years; and you felt your soul drowning in those depths and hastily pulled your vision back to the snug cabin that held you.