Astronomical Observing from a Biblical View (AOBV)
Authors: Roland and Linda Beard
Verson 2 of this course was published in early January 2015. If you downloaded the first version, we recommend downloading the new version to take advantage of the improvements and additions.
AOBV is a course of instruction that is designed to teach practical skills for observing the heavens from a biblical world view. The authors’ desire is for every student to discover some of the majesty and power of God through the process of observing the the created heavens.
Training is available for this course, although it can be taken independently. Groups as large as 30 people can be accommodated in training, which takes 24 hours of instruction, not including at least 4 observing periods under the stars. Once learned, the principles of observing can last a lifetime with a limited amount of practice.
AOBV is specifically oriented to disadvantaged people groups, where children and teachers often have limited access to modern tools for astronomical observing. Hence, chapter sizes and graphics are small; optical instruments (if used) are modest. The course can be taken in the restricted case where no optical aids are available, but a binocular or a small telescope is recommended. The instruction assumes the student has completed about five years of school, but it can be used for younger children with more supervision from teachers. Once the skills have been learned, a teacher or parent can use the chapters as a guide for younger students.
AOBV is written for non-commercial use. While protected by copyright, the course may be copied and used without cost or special permission by people who are like minded: they want to discover the created heavens. AOBV is currently distributed through CHRISTWORKS MINISTRIES, a Christ-based non-profit all-volunteer organization.
COURSE SIZE: 2 MB (PDF file); about 140 pages with 12 lessons, in-the field exercises, and a set of informative addendums.
Verson 1 – May 10, 2010
Version 2 – December 2014, although a low power binocular or small telescope helps. The graphics and literal size of the course are kept small (about the size of a digital photograph) to facilitate downloading when internet services are limited.
WHY TAKE THE COURSE? (extracted from the Author’s Preface)
So why study the night skies, especially from a biblical view? It is rarely taught anywhere! Night skies are beautiful, which will be discovered by the student. The night skies also invariably lead to this question: How did they get there?” They are present every night for observation if there are reasonably clear skies. They contain a wealth of detail and features that are easily observable with the unaided eye or with the assistance of modest optics. But there is a two-sided problem why their beauty seems hidden:
- Although the Bible, whose original author is God, illustrates the importance and goodness of the heavens through numerous scriptures, few people learn or believe what God says about them. The Bible is too often viewed as having little impact on the world we see around us, so God’s comments on the heavens and their creation are typically unknown or disregarded.
- The average person does not have observing skills for the heavens for a number of reasons. Light pollution in city areas discourages observing. The attraction and amount of media that people regularly see tends to overload people–supplanting interest in observing skills that require more time and discipline. Courses are rarely offered that train people to observe in a disciplined manner—especially the heavens.
Therefore, it is not surprising that teaching observational astronomy with a biblical view is uncommon. It was considered a valuable skill in the distant past for the wealthy, but has not been a regular part of most education processes for centuries. For that matter, practical Bible instruction about the physical world around us is rare. Although the Bible clearly states that the heavens—like the rest of creation—speak of God’s character and glory, it is a truth seldom applied to the rapidly expanding body of information about sky objects. Spacecraft and earth-based telescopes continue to deliver information that accents the complexity and beauty of sky objects but relating it to God’s creative and sustaining hand is uncommon. In the meantime, the practical sky-observing skill of most people remains limited and unaffected.
In contrast, our experience in the field has shown us that skilled observing of the skies from God’s point of view is both exciting and encouraging. The course is oriented to fuel these attitudes—especially among those who are young, young-at-heart, curious, or looking for the reason, order and beauty of the heavens. Course is designed so people start observing. The skills can be expanded with experience but are sufficiently presented in this course for a person, if the skills are mastered, to begin observing with confidence. These skills can also benefit other areas of expertise, where disciplined observing, as applied to many professional fields, involves steps that are similar to those presented in the course.
We encourage students to enjoy learning and observing the heavens. We recommend a thankful heart to God for the heavens. They are available for observation for a lifetime. While silent, the heavens speak loudly about the One who created and sustains them. Our theme is simple: Psalm 19:1 says, “the heavens declare the glory of God.”