I had not looked at the heavens in earnest until I was 50. If I looked at the night skies, they pretty much all seemed the same. Are they?
We thrive on contrast. It can be contrast or variety or differences in color, texture, sound or a dozen other variables. People on the ocean want to be in the mountains. People living inland want to go to the ocean. The incredible variety that is found on earth heightens curiousity.
The night skies attract less attention because of light pollution and the lack of disciplined observing skills, but the contrasts are just as apparent when new observers begin to learn “how to see.” Let’s try and example for the March skies by starting with a sketch of the most notable part of the Orion Constellation:
In the early evening you can see it for yourself as it is a little West of “overhead” for most latitudes and gets lower as the evening progresses. The beautiful constellation has a very distinct pattern and a patch of milky fuzz close to the 3 stars in a line in the center. If one looks at Orion on a good night, more can be seen that could not be seen on the night I made this sketch because it was partly cloudy. Look for the prominent white star (Rigel) on one side but a prominent orange star (Betelgeuse) on the opposite side the center “belt” (the line of three stars in the center). By itself the constellation shows you contrasts in star color and magnitude. I happened to catch it on a snowy night, where the light snow lay on the branches of a tree, so I grabbed that part of the scene, too.
Now lets try two star clusters, which you can see in the sketch below.
Clusters, which can be “open” or “globular,” are unique by the numbers of stars that are dominant and their overall appearance. The mini-patterns you find in open clusters (these two are open clusters) vary quite a bit. This sketch shows you two open clusters in the same quadrant of the heavens but they are quite different. I sketched them side by side to draw attention to their differences.
So what is the point? Our Creator wants us to see what is around us. He gave us means to observe differences, see variety, and appreciate the beauty of the heavens. Psalm 19 says the heavens declare His glory. Other references point to the heavens as a signature of His power and majesty. All this can be seen with the eyes that take the time to observe. A binocular helps see a little more. The second sketch uses a powerful binocular made for night viewing, but a simple 7 or 8 power binocular with at least 35 mm diameter front lenses can see quite a bit. A telescope sees a whole different magnitude of sights that eyes along cannot detect. Of all the tools to use, however, a pair of good eyes is the best and most versatile.
The heavens often cause the question to arise, “How can this be?” Good question. The popular answer is simple: it happened all by itself. But the answer is not convincing. Contrary to popular opinion, measurements and discoveries have a better “fit” for an answer that is purely naturalistic (no God allowed). The Scripture is more direct: God did it. And, He did it in style with its array of beauty that is marked by contrasts in magnitude, color, shape, and pattern. It can be apparent with a simple pair of eyes and a mind in a curious person. It is also apparent to some astro-physicists, who also believe God’s statements, using sophisticated and large instruments. (You can do searches about the subject and find articles by some of those specialists at www.creation.com, www.icr.org, or www.answersingenesis.org. Or, we have a free downloadable course (Astronomical Observing from a Biblical View) that we use overseas to teach teachers. It can be obtained from me or it can be downloaded from the Files folder at www.christworksministries.org.)
Why not go out and take a look for yourself? Even in light polluted skies, much can be seen, although seeing it from a darker location is incredibly better. If you do it, remember your eyes take 15-20 minutes to reasonably adapt to low light conditions. If you take a look this month, find Orion like I did that snowy evening in 2010. The pattern of stars is not hard to find, and you (if you are like me) will find it many times every year.
When its all over, give thanks to the One Who made it all and wants you to discover for yourself.