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Gazing at the stars

When my oldest grandson Brady was a bit younger, we’d lie down in the back of my pickup with a pair of binoculars and watch the stars.

Now, I’ve never known much about the sky, but it’s always fascinated me. I do know there is a sun, a moon, some planets, and lots of stars… as many stars are there are children of Abraham, and we’re finding more all the time as new and better telescopes are developed.

In fact, there is so much in our night sky, I’ve always assumed it would be overwhelming to try and learn much about it. So, I bought the astronomy course from Great Courses, but I’ve never watched it. Well, I did watch one episode and was amazed at how much there was to learn… it was overwhelming.

Then, suddenly, I found myself with a SkyWeek app, offering a daily list of what’s happening in the sky over where I live and a SkyView app, which is an incredible piece of technology.

If I open the SkyView app and aim the back of my iPad into the sky, it gives me a picture of what’s in the sky with labels. For instance, on Jan. 19, there are two bright lights in the lower southwestern sky, the upper one is Neptune and the lower one is Venus.

Then, I dropped the view below the horizon represented by a red line on the screen and found Mercury. I dropped the view a bit lower to another bright white light and it’s the already set Sun. Dropping my view even lower I found Saturn and Jupiter. SkyWeek also includes a list of all the planets and where they are in the sky during the current week.

So, I looked at SkyWeek and discovered that if we look into the southeast sky after dinner this week, we can see Sirius lower in the sky and the constellation Orion just above Sirius. To the left of Orion are the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux lying on their sides in the January sky. And on Thursday, if you look high in the west, you can see Capella, the Goat Star and to the right of Capella, you might be able to see a small narrow triangle named “the kids.”

I remember as a child lying on the ground and watching the clouds moving across the sky during the day, or maybe it was the earth turning on its axis. But regardless of day or night, I’ve never looked into the sky without feeling a sense of awe and wonder. The psalmist (8:3-4) said, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” And yet God does care for us.