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A Crush of Stars

November 23, 2019

Another Way for week of November 22, 2019

A Crush of Stars

My husband and I love gazing at the exquisite night sky. We are lucky to live out in the country, far enough away from any town or city that we can frequently drink in of a crush of stars overhead.

If one of us goes out really early or late at night, we often call to the other one to come and see “how beautiful the stars” are. This week we both glimpsed the same falling star or meteor, always an amazement.

Photo by George Hodan, Public Domain license.

The stars look so close, surely not further away than say, a jet, yet we know their seeming nearness contradicts the truth: a Google search tells me the closest ones are about 5.8 trillion miles away and the furthest ones are billions of times farther than that. The Encyclopaedia Britannica website helps put this in terms we can understand, saying if you traveled as fast as the Apollo 11 spaceship did traveling to the moon, it would take you 43,000 years to get to the nearest star. Contemplate that!

When we first moved here after living only four miles from city lights, I remember a neighbor coming over to welcome us, but also to air his hope that we wouldn’t be putting up any nighttime outside light. We assured him that was not in our plans—a flood light on the garage perhaps that we could turn on or off, but no dusk-to-dawn light in the driveway or anywhere. I’m thankful for Mike’s effort to preserve as much of the “dark sky” that we have.

In recent years, both astronomy enthusiasts and environmentalists have encouraged actively preserving areas where night time lights are kept at a minimum—for the sake of humans and animals alike. Those are being called “Dark Sky” parks or preserves or similar names, and experts say that too much light can mess with our creator-given circadian rhythms, for both humans and animals. So yes, we need lights in cities for safety, obviously, but lights can be made that cast little or no light upward.

I love that even in Bible times 2000 to 4000 years ago, people saw these same stars, and the Bible gives the same names we have today for several constellations—Orion and Pleiades, for instance, in the books of Job and Amos. In Job’s poetic chapter 38, God says,

“Who are you to question my wisdom …
Does either the rain or the dew have a father?
Who is the mother of the ice and the frost?
Can you tie the Pleiades together
Or loosen the bonds that hold Orion?
Do you know the laws that govern the skies, and can you make them apply to the earth?” (Portions of Job 38, Good News Translation).

Another glorious passage on the sky is Psalm 19, here in the well-known but archaic King James Version:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. Their [the heavens] line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber…” (Psalm 19: 1-5).

What that passage says to me in plainer English: Be inspired as you look at the stars and the sky because they declare the existence of God, who conceived of this amazing creation. Daytime speaks to us of God, and nighttime does as well. In the heavens God has set a tabernacle for the sun!

I love that image. Think about these words next time you see a glorious sunrise or night sky, and thank God.

As November winds quickly down to December and the shortest day of the year, while we may miss the nice long days of summer, the longer nights of winter can cast their own spell as we contemplate how close stars appear while being billions of miles away. And these thoughts barely begin to describe how vast and great and unfathomable God’s universe is.

***

Do you have a good view of the stars where you live?

***

Catch any glimpses of the meteor showers this week? Your thoughts, stories, memories are welcome here!

 

Comment here or send to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

4 Comments
  1. Street lights all but obliterate the crush of stars for me now. But I distinctly remember star-gazing in my astronomy class at EMC!

    • You will have to enjoy the other advantages of your location there in Jacksonville: the ocean and beautiful flowers. Eh? I never saw the stars from the observatory on EMU’s hill, but did see the star programs in the planetarium in the science center.

      • Actually, I can see a spray of stars and sometimes the moon when I look toward the preserve, away from lights, of course.

  2. Comment sent by email from Nick Russian:
    I live in a rural area near a town of about 2000 residents. The night sky has awed and inspired me since I was child. I remember when my big brother first pointed out the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.

    We have learned much about the universe since ancient times. Earth is no longer flat and the center of the universe. Now we know that the size of the universe is bigger than we can imagine. And there appears to be no limit to the smallness of subatomic particles, only a limit to our ability to measure them.

    Discoveries in quantum physics suggest that an infinite number of parallel universes and parallel selves exist, where all the alternate choices we could have made play out. God seems to get “bigger” with each new scientific discovery.

    What size God fits inside one’s head?

    I’m reminded of Steve Job’s last words just before he died: “Oh wow! Oh wow!” Maybe he got a glimpse of God.

    –Nick Russian

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