How do they connect to inform us?
They do–technically–in a way one first might not expect.
Science involves measuring
not what is,
nor what will be,
but what was.
For more use the DOOR.
The reason science can only look at the past: Sensory information is received by the eyes, the ears, the nose, and the “fingers.” This information, however, must be sent to the brain and “processed” so the person observing can “know” what’s being received and make some sort of “record” of it (formally or just in the mind).
And this takes time.
Not much however…
Let’s just consider sight. You say you “see a maple tree a dozen feet in front of you.”
Well, technically, that’s not true. You saw the tree as it was a tiny, tiny fraction of second earlier. (1) The light informing you of the existence of the tree had to get to your eye; then (2) the nerves in your eye had to inform your brain that a tree was in front of you. You weren’t “seeing” the tree, you were “sawing” it in the visual sense.
Practically speaking, however, light travels so fast, and your “electronic” nervous system is so fast, that people won’t fault you for insisting that you’re instantaneously “seeing” it.
When objects are farther away it’s a different matter. You never “see” the sun when you’re looking straight at it. You’re seeing what the sun was like a bit more than 8 minutes earlier.
With faraway stars it gets more complex. An astronomer, or a person in his backyard looking at stars, is looking at history that took place thousands or millions of years ago.
An astronomer is always stuck with observing history–some of it very ancient indeed.