As a young boy I loved science. I still love discovering new things, but the part of my brain that was so revved up in 4th grade must have been driven into submission through years of disinterest during the various presentations flattened by those evil gnomes of Boringia. Well, that combined with my utter contempt of all things mathematical, that dark realm into which science so often retreats for credibility.
Still, this decline in scientific interest has been countered by a growing interest in metaphysics. I love to ponder the natural world as it relates to the meaning of all things. What is out there? What can we know? What’s the point?
That’s why I’ve always loved space and learning about the universe. It’s powerful and beautiful and too vast for anyone to really understand. Sure, a lot of smart people can explain theories, laws or formulas to me, but in the end they don’t really get it anymore than I do.
And I love that.
When I moved into a new place a few months back I began walking my dog twice a day. I especially enjoy the nighttime trip, half of which is spent tripping over curbs while I gaze into the sky. I find great solace when I look into space and my heart is filled with wonder, a worshipful experience really. I feel a connection to all people across the ages who looked upon the same sky.
The universe offers continuity in an ever changing world (<-Tweet this), stability in an often chaotic existence. No one knows exactly how it all works, but I look into that sky and know that life is not accidental. Those lights across the blackness of night help compel me towards purpose.
Still, I didn’t know what all I was looking at, and I wanted to be able to discern the various constellations and planets that rotate in and out of view throughout the year. For example, a brilliant triangle of lights is visible in August, but were those shining dots planets or stars?
I discovered a gem resource on NASA’s HubbleSite called Tonight’s Sky–a short monthly video guide (5-8 minutes) to celestial bodies and events as they’ll appear right now. You quickly learn about what constellations or planets are visible and what unique events will take place in a given month. I even discovered what that cool triangle of lights on the horizon was.
Another must have app for Droid users is Google’s Sky Map. Point your phone to the sky and see it all. Using accessible tech to study the stars is a great way to cap off a night, especially with wide-eyed kids.
If you’re stressed or confused or just seeking some calm, go do some good, old-fashioned star-gazing. Contemplate the vastness of it all. See if you don’t all at once feel so small but then also astonished that the One who created all things also created you and knows you by name.
If you get a few minutes, hop over to the HubbleSite and poke around. I especially recommend watching Tonight’s Sky if you get a few minutes, but you should also get lost in the unfathomable picture gallery for a bit. Then take a walk one night this week. Let your mind wander, and your heart wonder.
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?” ~ Psalm 8:3-4
Do you ever consider the heavens?