Have you ever had an experience like you know something, but then whatever it is hits you right between the eyes in a fresh, new, powerful way? Well, this very same thing happened to me recently. Two things happened. First, I was teaching my students about astronomy and we were discussing light years, stars, galaxies, etc. Secondly, my husband and I went on a walk on a crisp, clear night where we could see forever (or so it seemed!). All of a sudden, Psalm 8:3-4 became a reality to me. “When I observe Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is man that You remember him, the son of man that you look after him?”
Here are some facts that when I stop to think about them and ponder them, my mind just can’t quite grasp them.
- A light year, which is the speed light travels in a year, is approximately 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). Stop and think about that number for a moment. It’s easy to say, but can we really grasp the enormity of the number… (It would take about 32,000 years to count to 1 trillion; assuming you could say 1 number per second.)
- The sun is 93 million miles from Earth. It takes 8 minutes for the light from the sun to reach us. Therefore we see the light from sun as it was 8 minutes ago.
- The second closest star to Earth (after the sun) is about 24 trillion miles (4 light years) away from Earth.
- There are between 200 and 400 billion stars just in the Milky Way Galaxy.
- The Milky Way Galaxy is about 100,000 light years wide. (Think about that, 100,000 x 6,000,000,000,000). In other words, traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), it would take 100,000 years to get from one side of our galaxy to the other.
- The closest galaxy to the Milky Way is actually within the Milky Way Galaxy. It is called the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy and is about 42,000 light years from the center of the Milky Way. It is 25,000 light years from Earth.
- The Andromeda Galaxy is about 2.5 million light years away from Earth. (Think: 2,500,000 x 6,000,000,000,000). Mind boggling!
- There are at least 100 billion galaxies in the known universe.
- Even on the clearest of nights, we can only see about 3,000 stars.
- It is estimated that the number of stars in the known universe far exceeds all the grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth! So on a clear night, we can only see the equivalent of a handful of sand.
As I pondered these facts, while gazing at the heavens I felt so small and insignificant in comparison to our awesome God. Here are some other verses that speak of the awesomeness of our God. Take some time to meditate on these scriptures.
Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands.”
Psalm 147:4, “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”
Isaiah 40:5, “Look up and see: Who created these? He brings out the starry host by number; He calls them all by name. Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing.”
Amos 5:8, “The One who made the Pleiades and Orion, Who turns darkness into dawn and darkens day into night, who summons the sea and pours them out over the face of the earth – Yahweh is His name.”
Psalm 33:6, “The heavens were made by the word of the Lord, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth.
Job 9:8-9, “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He makes the stars: the Bear, Orion, the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky.”
Psalm 90:1-2, “Lord, You have been our refuge in every generation. Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity, You are God.”
What is man that He remembers him? All praise and glory to our eternal, immortal, invisible God!