There is nothing quite like a sparkling clear night when the heavens show the handiwork of God. In view of the night on January 3rd, it seemed fitting to observe a common favorite: the Great Orion Nebula, which is also in the Orion constellation, which is mentioned twice in the scripture. The appearance of this nebula is, of course, striking. When viewed with an astro video camera, it is an in-your-face object with brilliant color and complex structure. The nebula, by itself, is passionate in appearance, if you define passion as associated with bold colors, size, and shape of an object in comparison to others that we can readily observe.
However striking M42 is, its purpose is the same: a signpost that points to the Author of the heavens. Posting this blog note and the sketch below is part of our passion to declare His handiwork. This passion has grown since we began observing and sketching about 6 years ago. We have taken the message of creation and the Gospel, coupled with teaching practical observing skills, to other countries and places. On occasion (and this evening was one of them), we broadcast the sketch process on Night Skies Network while we are observing.
It is uncommon to hear clear proclamations, in keeping with the scriptures, that the heavens and the earth are His doing–as explained in Genesis and a multitude of other scriptures. Our passion to do this flies in the face of the accepted notion and story telling that it all happened by itself. Rather, evidence strongly supports that God, indeed, did what He relayed in Genesis 1. Current observed processes simply do not support the creation of what we see. The list goes on and on why things cannot happen by themselves: the nebular “hypothesis” (nothing to gases to thick gases to incredibly organized bundles of energy called stars) has huge holes; planets do not coalesce all by themselves; the planets do not follow predictable patterns in terms of substance/appearance as you go away from sun; star birth process has never been observed while star death is not uncommon; short-life objects like comets suggest a young solar system since the origins are a subject of speculation but have never been found; and our unique and priceless planet is an incredible special creation that defies theories centered in undirected naturalistic processes.
So when I see this beautiful object, it grabs my attention and points me to the One who made the heavens. It is always appropriate to give thanks to God for such a view that we have. Views like this speak of His vast power yet attention to detail and His care to let us see so easily observe from a safe vantage point. So this grand signpost repeats itself most nights and for several months of every year. On its face is written: “Look to the One who made me!”
Technical note: video camera settings were modest (low gain and 1.8 to 7 seconds integration). The sketch was done during the live observation under reasonably good conditions but was accomplished inside our home by running the video output from the telescope set up to our sketch location. The actual sketch was done with pastels (about 8 colors) on black sketch paper.