The transparency of the heavens and the atmosphere is by design. Our God’s most magnificent universe system permits safe and exciting viewing from almost any place on the planet. I could put this in highly technical terms but it is nice to simply lean back in the evening and enjoy the sights. This particular evening I wanted to see the Dumbell Nebula again. My wife and I have both sketched it a couple times in the last few years. It is a popular target in the Fall when we invite friends. This evening, however, I was alone, except for some online friends that were watching through Night Skies Network. (I was broadcasting the image while sketching it from my own monitor.)
Before continuing and if you have an opportunity, you can see the object with a small telescope. In the Fall at mid Northern latitudes you can find it high in sky near the base of the Northern Cross (Cygnus). Sky maps usually show it. With a little averted vision (looking slightly away from the object when looking through an eyepiece on a telescope), it can appear like a little dumbell or bowtie in an 80-mm (or larger) refractor. Hence, its name. With a little larger scope, you begin to see a little more definition and and structure. In my case for the October 10 evening, I used an 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope coupled with a color-sensitive astro video camera. This is when the colors leap off the observing screen. The sketch is somewhat conservative; the colors were much more intense and bright on the screen image.
So when did the object get created? The objects in the heavens were certainly created, as God plainly states, in Genesis 1:14-19 on the fourth day of creation. His command is the mechanism of creation. At the conclusion of the 4th day of creation he states that what he did was “good”. He makes the statement at the conclusion of each day of creation. At the outset, there was no sin, no death, and no disease. The situation was spoiled rather quickly, however, by sin–man’s grand failure.
If you track the generations recorded in the Bible, the creation event, which includes the heavens, would have taken place about 6000 years ago. If this seems shocking, it is because of the now popular naturalistic/evolutionary worldview, which assumes 15+ billion years, deletes God from the equation and relies on natural processes and undirected chance to produce everything (including us). However, this view, is not proven (contrary to what is often stated). Rather, it is based on assumptions or assertions. Further, the concept of self-generating complexity, information, and arrival of life through mutation and chance has just a few problems connected with it (an understatement–especially in the face of known laws and processes).
From a Biblical worldview, which is based on the historical statements in the scriptures that ultimately come from the Creator, the the creation or occurrence of particular sky objects is not stated. Nebulae, in particular, can come from failed stars and other stellar catastrophic events. While it is possible that he created clouds of “space gas” at the outset that were made “alive” with color from nearby star light, there are other possibilities.
The fall of man (an actual historical event that marks the entrance of sin) was immediately followed with the entrance of death and disease, which involved a subjection of natural creation. All of this translates to a major change on earth and the universe. This beautiful nebula could have been a result of a failed star or stars at that point.
It could also be that the flood of Noah (worldwide in extent and the cause of a geological upheaval of the earth) was connected to things also happening in the solar system and the heavens. A stellar explosion at that time could have also yielded M27. Or, a failed star more recently could have resulted in this beautiful object. The bottom line: we won’t know because we cannot go back to see the event again.
Nevetheless, the Dumbell Nebula’s beauty-out-of-catastrophe (a likely start) should remain as no surprise. The Grand Canyon is beautiful, even awe inspiring, but it is also the result of a catastrophic event: the deep and rapid receding of flood waters from the upraised land on current North America near the end of the flood of Noah. While beautiful, it is also a reminder of God’s ability to control his creation to do His bidding or render His judgment. Of course, the safety of Noah and family (and created “kinds” of animals) is also a testimony of his mercy. Had it not been for this mercy, we would not be here.
In the same view many wonders of the heavens that are so beautiful have a birth in failure or catastrophy–things that have gone wrong. Many objects like the Dumbell are reminders that things are now inherently unstable: held together by his mercy while reminding us of the temporal nature of things. Whether by original creative original work, a result of the fall of man, or a result of the catastrophic events around the flood of Noah, or failures since then, the Dumbell is a known object to God and a reminder to us of some of the magnificence of the heavens.