It had been months since both of us observed the heavens and sketched together. The night was clear and Linda felt well enough to study an object. So I asked again at sunset, “Are you sure you are up to some observing?” The answer was an adamant “Yes!” She cuddled up on the same chair you see in the picture with a little black piece of paper, clipboard, and pastel set.
I set up the 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope with a special Hyperstar Lens that drastically shortens the focal length so we could see a widefield view. An astro video camera is connected to the Hyperstar Lens so we could pump the video image from the telescope to monitors in our living room, where each of us could study the live image and talk together at the same time.
Tonight we were headed to the southern section of the Milky Way that is full of celestial eye candy–a real testimony to the wondrous hand of our Creator. Some of our favorite objects are there. Having a nice wide view of them, because many are big and bright, makes them exciting to study. We intended to study the same object, but that is where our plans changed. I put M22 (a giant globular star cluster just above Saggitarius) on the monitors to focus and adjust equipment but it was so beautiful that Linda wanted to sketch it. So, I set up our broadcast on Night Skies Network and talked while she took 20 minutes to study and sketch the object. The gentle colored glow of its center was beautiful, which Linda captured nicely. Globulars are intimidating to me but Linda just charges in and does it!
Then I pointed the telescope to M8 (the Lagoon Nebula). She put the finishing touches on her observing sheet while I dove into the nebula. As she rested I finished my sketch. The expanse of the nebula in a widefield view proved quite a challenge at first, but I laid out the colors and densities before going after enough of the star field to identify the open cluster and a few primary stars. This division of tasks made the scene a little easier to render in the short 50 minute period.
Today (two days after our observation) we were talking about the special observing time and found a parallel in our walk as Christians. Our observing night went after two entirely different objects in different ways and separate times but our destination was the same: render the objects with each other. We became Christians two entirely different ways and in different places, but our destination was the same: a relationship with our Lord and Saviour. It was through that relationship with the Lord that we also got to know each other and became husband and wife.
So today we are thankful again for His heavens, a chance to observe them, and a chance to recognize our common destination in Christ.
1 Peter 4:7-8 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. (NIV)
Post note: We have been married over 40 years. Linda has had five episodes of cancer over 23 years of our time together. The last two years have involved multiple surgeries and treatments as the last episode of cancer continues. We know what it means to count our days carefully, which the Bible tells us to do. We have learned to love each other deeply as Christians, regardless of the circumstances. Circumstances have also not stopped our efforts to be in the mission field, whether that field be at home or away.