We can easily watch the heavens from the safe made-to-be-inhabited earth, but what we observe in other solar system planets is ever so different. The other planets are hostile to life, although each one is beautiful in its own way. With planet information more voluminous than experts can digest, there is one thing for sure: each planet is unique. They look different; they are comprised of a different combination of elements. Some of their features are simply astounding.
The most readily seen by most observers is the mighty gas giant, Jupiter, which is prominent during these 2015 winter evenings. Whenever it appears, it is the brightest of the planets that put on a show in the middle of the night. It is hard to imagine the discovery of its moons by Galileo with his crude optics, but his practical refinement of this invention and his observing tenacity gave the first glimpse of Jupiter’s four prominent moons. As a result, they carry his name as a group. Even with low-powered small telescopes, they can be watched each night as they change position relative to each other. With a modest 8 inch telescope, which I used this February, you can see the major bands of some of the violent caustic gases that are rotating at an incredible rate. It is truly a beautiful planet to observe but violent to the core. Many people record better observations than me, but here is my observing sheet for that evening:
Consider this: it is just one planet full of a magnitude of forces we cannot imagine. Yet, along with other stellar bodies, God called them into being in terms of position, substance, and movement. The Genesis scripture that is referenced on the observing sheet is brief. The book of Isaiah quotes God’s comment that provides a little more of the sense of the strength of His command. In chapter 48 verse 13 it says, “…and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they stand up all together.” That is our True Commander in Chief. The command was clear and succinct. The thoughts and power of our God are beyond comprehension when you consider the planets of our solar system, and Jupiter stands in the front as the largest as well as the one most easily and often seen.
It was a good night to give thanks. And now, reader, it is a good night to give thanks again. The planet is part of the signature of God for us to see and consider. His signature was not an elongated experiment over deep time. He summoned them, and they all stood up together, just as the verse says!
Drawing note: My rendering is limited by my ability; many observers do much better with similar optics. But that does not keep me from enjoying the development of an observing sheet. Try it yourself with a small telescope! Try to get the bands on the planet as best you can but also observe the position the four Galilean moons for the evening. This drawing was done in artist’s color pencils, but one can simply use a pencil and a piece of paper to learn and enjoy the process. For more information on learning to study the night skies from a biblical view, download the free course on this site. It is found under <downloadable courses> and is named, “Astronomical Observing from a Biblical View.” Roland