Photograph by NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team and the Westerland 2 Science Team
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde
Students of the stars never run out of interesting information. Astronomers tell us that stars are not spread uniformly across the universe, but are normally grouped into galaxies along with interstellar gas and dust. A typical galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars, and there are more than 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
The photo above was taken to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hubble. The super telescope snapped this shot of the Gum 29 nebula and Westerlund 2, a ruby-colored cluster of about 3,000 stars.
Enough of the science. The important thing is how we experience the vastness and beauty of a starry night. Looking up at the stars causes us to lift up our vision, to raise our sight above the mundane things that earth sometimes gives us. The stars sprinkle our darkest nights with twinkles of light. In some ways, starlight brings hope in the midst of darkness. I love the poetry of Sarah Williams. This is what she writes in Twilight Hours: A Legacy of Verse.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
Most importantly, the stars remind us of the enormity of the universe, while also reassuring us that as finite as we are, we are a part of God’s infinite creation.
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?
Psalm 8:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
Looking up into the stars is a wonderful way to spend a few moments of life. Don’t forget to look up into the sky.