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The Heavens Declare!

by Creation Museum on May 25, 2009

The most recent Stargazer's Night was held on May 22 and was quite a success with nearly a sell-out crowd. Our next night on May 29 is already sold out, but two more are planned for this summer on June 26 and August 28. Volunteer geologist Jim Schultz was one of the stargazers on Friday evening. Jim is back volunteering at the Creation Museum again and was kind enough to share his thoughts on the evening:

Yes, the heavens do declare the glory of God as was well presented and shown Friday evening by Dr. Jason Lisle during the Stargazers Night. Jason opened the evening with prayer and a time of devotion centered on Psalm 19 with the audience in a nearly full planetarium. The psalm begins with a wonderful description of the universe (God’s World), transitions to God’s Word (It is trustworthy), and ends with God (…O Lord, My Rock and my Redeemer). What better way to begin an activity than with the Lord and in His Word, and pointing to our need as sinners for redemption to the Holy God through Jesus Christ.

Next we were blessed with the showing of Jason’s first program (Worlds of Creation) that he developed for the planetarium. It presents a wonderful trip through our solar system including views from the surfaces of our moon and from Mars. I had not seen this show before and enjoyed this special opportunity.

Following a presentation of helpful tips and suggestions for viewing celestial objects through the telescopes, Jason led our group to the back parking lot under a sky with only a few clouds. One of his key tips was: “Don’t be a deer in headlights!” Sorry, but you will have to attend one of these special nights to learn what that means. Anyway, we arrived to find three large telescopes (one reflecting Newtonian style and two catadioptric Schmidt-Cassegrains) set up and ready to show us some examples of God’s handiwork. Although the amount of clouds began to increase considerably, we were blessed with only a few clouds for most of our viewing time. We began with the brightest objects, because there was still some light in the sky. These objects were Procyon (a white double star or binary system) and Arcturus (a red giant). A line of eager observers quickly formed to each of the telescopes.

Our telescope viewing was interrupted by two spectacular Iridium Flares (communications satellites that turn just right and strongly reflect light from the sun for a few seconds) and the International Space Station (a faint star-like light that moved across the northern sky twice while we were there). Jason had obtained the precise timing of the appearance of these manmade objects from the website heavens-above.com. Info for celestial bodies and other satellites can also be found there. Check it out.

Back to the celestial bodies. After each object had been seen by all of us, Jason and the great support staff (Jen, Denise, and Matt) would re-align the telescopes to new celestial bodies for our viewing. There were lots of questions and Jason and his team were prepared with answers and glory to God. We observed other binary system stars, including a beautiful gold and blue pair (Albireo), the bottom star in the constellation Cygnus (the Northern Cross). I guess that would make its position to be “at the foot of the cross.” How fitting for our viewing pleasure, a star in the position that we each need to be in! Now when you take a double star and then find out that each of them is also a binary (double) system star, you have the epsilon double double in the constellation Lyra. This one challenged many of us to be able to see the second set of star pairs because they are so close together.

We also observed two fine globular star clusters each with millions of stars, the Ring Nebula and the Dumbbell Nebula (gas clouds), and at least six galaxies including two with exotic names (Sombrero and Whirlpool) and an oddly referenced pair (one beautiful and one ugly). You will have to attend a future Stargazer Night to find out why Jason refers to the one as being “ugly”. Perhaps the highlight for many of us was viewing Saturn with its rings end-on to our view and two to four of its moons visible (depending on how closely you looked).

Jason was keep quite busy all evening and was losing his voice as we were ending (00:25 am Saturday morning; Wow, did the time pass quickly!). I would say that Saturn, the Iridium Flares, the Ring nebula, and the beautiful gold and blue binary star system (Albireo) at the bottom the Northern Cross were among my favorites for the evening. All in all it was a remarkable evening of viewing many objects, but representing only a very tiny portion of God’s wonderful handy work of the universe all from Day 4 of Creation referred to in Scripture only by the words: “…He made the stars also” (Genesis 1:16). Glory be to God! He made them for you! Get out there and observe them with other brothers and sisters during a future Stargazers Night!