Everything’s Bigger Than You Can Imagine (or, Why I Love Astronomy)

Back in my college days, when I first had access to the internet and started poking around on NASA’s then-new collection of freely available Hubble Satellite photos, my interest was first piqued in science. What I saw started a love affair with astronomy in particular, and science in general. The kinds of pictures I saw, and the numbers they were quoting for the size of some of these stars and galaxies and distances between them just blew my mind.

Several years have passed, and I’d like to think my appreciation of those images, facts, and figures has matured even further. And it’s in that spirit that I’d love to show you some things that I think will blow your mind.

First up is a video I swiped from a DVD I got a few years back called The Privileged Planet (I got permission to repost it here). After watching the DVD, I found this little segment buried in the bonus features: almost a throwaway. But as soon as I saw it, I thought it was the most amazing thing on the program. You can watch it below, but promise me you won’t keep reading until you watch it. It’s important.

Once you’re finished watching that video, click here.

As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him…
Psalm 103:11

Kind of puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it? I imagine size like that sets the mind of a person who doesn’t know God reeling. All that space. And what am I? Nothing. Less than nothing.

But to a believer, all that space was given to us as—at least partially—a divine illustration of how much God loves us. It’s like, when He made the universe, He said “Let me create a vastness so large that the human mind can measure it just enough to perceive something of how immeasurable it is. And then I’ll tell them that vastness is weak illustration of how much I love them.” What an extravagant gesture!

God has also said that His wisdom is higher than the heavens above the earth, and that His ways are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth. Which should put at least a few arc seconds more perspective on how much wiser God is than us. We can trust Him in whatever He’s up to, whether it looks good or bad to us.

Time to do some more mind blowing. Back in 1995, Hubble did the first “Hubble Deep Field.” They aimed the Hubble camera at the darkest patch of space they could find and decided to let the camera expose a photograph for several minutes over several months. All told, it exposed a picture for over a week. And the patch of sky they focused on was (please try to get this size in your head) the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. The idea was to see if maybe, just maybe they could see a star or two not visible to our powerful telescopes. Here’s what they saw.

Click this once you’ve seen that picture.

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
Psalm 147:4-5

It’s a joy to “use your mind to blow your mind,” as John Piper once said. So I want to help you use your brain and sense of wonder to praise God for His marvelous works. I would encourage you to listen to “When Morning Gilds the Skies” as you take a look at some more pictures and see how “the heavens are telling the glory of God.”

the cats eye nebulathe star Eta Carinae surrounded by the Homunculus Nebulaeta carinae nebulacollision of two galaxiespillars of creation in the eagle nebulasize comparison of the planets in our solar systemsize comparison of the sun with VV Cephei Asize comparison of the sun with VV Cephei A

If you enjoy these pictures and would love to see more God-glorifying visions of our universe, bookmark the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day or subscribe to its RSS feed.

“The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” —Psalm 19:1

52 Thoughts.

  1. Isa 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

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