It began with a simple request: can we have a bunch of community youth come up to the observing deck and observe? We established the equipment at IFL in Cabuyao, Laguna, PI for them about 2 years ago. Enough trained staff were ready to try a local crowd at night, but over 40 kids and 6 adults or so on a 3rd floor open deck in the Philippines in the dark can get really interesting when there is that much young energy in one spot.
Since hardly any young people had looked through a scope, the WOW effect can be quite a shock if you are not ready for it. We start slow, but once the freight train gets moving you cannot stop it. We start by talking about the Lord’s comments to Job about the heavens, then we run to Genesis where God commands them into existence. We start pointing to Sirius (the brightest star) and the brightest “wandering star” or Jupiter for this time of night and year in the Philippines. We talk a little bit about the precision of the clock (celestial sphere…earth rotation…seasonal changes) that He set up. Then we point out a couple different stars in the Orion constellation (mentioned by God twice in the Scripture) so they see they are different (Rigel and Betelgeuse are great for this) then run past two verses in Psalm 147:3-4, where He deliberately places two verses together: one on how he heals the brokenhearted but follows with the fact that He has named every star (before we ever thought about it). During this first half hour they are also learning the Orion constellation, know where Sirius is, know the stars are different, and begin to understand the apparent movement of the sky.
We had 6 staff or teachers poised and ready for the next 90 minutes with 3 80mm refractors and 3 with binoculars. For the next 90 minutes they pour over the equipment to see a cluster, the Great Orion Nebula, Betelgeuse and Jupiter with the Galilean moons. We stop them about every 10 minutes to point out details and ask them to find them, so there are periodic rushes to scopes or binoculars. We remind them periodically about the wonder of it all and point to God’s mighty hand in the universe…the same hand that heals the broken hearted as they turn to Him.
Then we get then all together and do a “shout” test. We question and they holler the answers. They repeat back the references in the Bible and point to the objects when we describe them. After a closing prayer, they head home with seemingly more energy than they came. It takes us about an hour to wrap up and pack everything for the next group that might come.
Another night around this time was quiet. I sneak up and do a quick sketch of the great nebula between the two little groups of stars, but the haze keeps me from seeing much. I still get “discovered” by a couple teachers and 10 kids or so. It does not matter. The real memory is with those active smiling faces on these evenings when we tell them about the Author of it all….and they see it for themselves.