1The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19, NIV)
Sixty years ago, my friend Jack Burns and I went stargazing with my 6-inch Newtonian reflector telescope. On a crisp, cold night we saw Saturn’s rings, Jupiter and its moons, the reddish disc of Mars, and the white spheres of Venus and Mercury. We were elated by these celestial sights and the warmth of our friendship. In retrospect, I think we experienced the presence of God.
Well, I recently purchased an inexpensive 70 mm refractor which will reveal very similar images. Of course, the sky above Sherman is polluted by the light of the numerous towns in the area, but—by driving 75 miles north into rural Oklahoma—I should have a dark enough sky for stargazing that’s comparable or better than what Jack and I had in the 1970’s. And, sometime in the future, I MIGHT buy an expensive, large aperture scope and drive to Big Bend National Park, camp out, and set up the telescope for some serious viewing under the absolutely dark sky of this remote, desert area. Of course, the telescope couldn’t be so big that it wouldn’t fit in my wife’s SUV! Moreover, our retirement income may not be sufficient for such an expenditure.
Actually, it’s not necessary to have a large telescope to see God if you’re in Big Bend. Even with the naked eye, these dark skies are a stunning panorama of constellations, planets, and the Milky Way. Of course, those who are not religious see this celestial spectacle as the result of the laws of physics and chemistry, not the creation of God. Nevertheless, both theists and non-theists are almost always united by a sense of awe at this cosmic mystery in which we live.
~ Richard Russell
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