Stop! Look up, and stand in awe!

A view through our bedroom window

People have been looking to the night skies for millennia, eager to understand the wonders of our universe, and our place amidst the myriad of stars. The book of Job, written somewhere between 6000 – 4000 BC speaks of God in reference to the stars and constellations, familiar in our world of today. Quote –

He alone stretches out the heavens
and treads on the waves of the sea.
He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
Job 9:8,9

Countless books and charts have been made by astronomers and astrologers, and now with the right app you can just point your ipad at the night sky and identify the stars and planets as they make their regular circuits in the silence of the night.

An example of my night photographs

As I look through my library of photographs I’m amazed at how many photos I have of the moon and night sky, in spite of my limited knowledge and equipment. Above are just a few taken recently on the edge of the city with all of its light pollution, so I think it’s time we made another trip to the ‘dark sky park’ in Ayrshire, or alternatively perhaps we could visit the planetarium? Yes, that’s exactly what we did!

Glasgow Science Centre including Planetarium and IMAX theatre

This is the Science Centre on the banks of the river Clyde, which runs through the heart of Glasgow. Among many other wonders at the Science Centre is the Planetarium

The Planetarium, plus the planet Information board

It’s amazing just to lie back and be guided around the sky by an expert, and although the quality of the sound was unfortunately not too great from the hand held microphone, somehow it didn’t seem to matter too much. Lying there just trying to grasp the size and scale of our galaxy with its billions of stars, and considering the countless other galaxies, that was in itself enough to keep this old mind of mine fully occupied. Unfortunately photography was not allowed, but the above charts of the planets (in order, from the nearest to the sun first) were in public display. It should be said however that ‘Pluto’ has now been down graded from a planet to a ‘mini planet’.

Photos from ‘Our beautiful planet’ 3D film at the Imax theatre.

A few weeks later we heard that the IMAX theatre were showing a 3D film entitled ‘Our Beautiful Planet’ so we made plans to see it. Above are some shots taken during the show, plus a couple of photos from our earlier visit to the Planetarium display area. The 3D experience makes you feel as if you are right there in the International Space Station, looking out of the windows – absolutely amazing! The Earth shines like a jewel in the canopy of space, and in spite of much searching no other inhabitants in space have as yet been found. Scientists however say they have located a planet similar to earth, but it is said to be 500 light years away. To reach it would take approximately 18 million years! Sometimes you feel it is beyond comprehension. So many statistics to blow your mind! Here’s another one I came across recently – If the sun was a hollow sphere how many ‘Earth size’ planets would it take to fill it? Well, it is said to be 1.3 million earths, and our star the Sun, is a dwarf sompared to other stars in our galaxy. Whew!

Reflection: This week I was talking on line to my great grandson who goes to school in Africa, and was asking ‘What were you learning at school today? He said ‘GG’ (Great Grandpa) ‘we are doing a project on the planets, and I was asked to introduce it to the other classes‘. Not bad for a wee guy about to turn six years of age. A day or so later I received a newsletter from a Christan friend also working in Africa and he sent me this photo of their ‘Kids Club’, He said, the children are memorising Psalm 8. Psalm 8?

‘When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him’.

600+ children at the kids club!

They did not know I was reading ‘The Planets’ a best seller by Andrew Cohen with Professor Brian Cox, plus re-reading Lee Strobel’s book, written as an investigative journalist, ‘The Case for a Creator’. All facinating stuff which certainly gives one a reality check, if we are getting too carried away with our own importance!

The advances made in the study and exploration of the universe during the last 30+ years have been quite staggering to say the least. Much has been said and written about the fine tuning of the universe. Strobel says, ‘Just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far too fantastic to attribute this to mere chance … the dials are set too precisely to have been a random accident. Somebody, as Fred Hoyle quipped, has been monkeying with the physics’. A number of examples are given to illustrate the point, but you had best read it for your self. All this of course points to an intelligent design and to what the Bible has always claimed. Let one quote suffice:
‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. Jeremiah 32:17

It reminds me of Robert Jastrow’s quote: ‘For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.’

i’m not too sure about all theologians, but I am constantly impressed with the Bible and the God of whom it speaks. The God of the universe – the infinite, and the God of the human cell – the finite, with its amazing DNA code. The God who has made himself known in creation, through his written word, and finally through His Son Jesus Christ. And although He is often described as the creator, the maker and upholder of all things, yet when he speaks of Himself he says ‘Come to me …. for I am gentle and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your soul’ Infinite love, infinite grace, infinite mercy …….. Graham Kendrick’s song ‘The Sevant King’ expresses it so well:

From Heaven, You came helpless babe, Entered our world, your glory veiled Not to be served but to serve, And give Your life that we might live

Come see His hands and His feet, The scars that speak of sacrifice, Hands that flung stars into space, To cruel nails surrendered

This is our God, The Servant King He calls us now to follow Him. To bring our lives as a daily offering Of worship to The Servant King

How amazing that God not only knows us, but everything about us. That can be comforting, and that can be a bit scary too, considering we must all stand before Him one day! You can listen to Graham Kendrick’s lovely song here

Thanks for reading thus far, and yes I would recommend a visit to the Planetarium and Imax theatre complex in Glasgow, or one close to where you are.

God bless