Here is a simple but partial observing sheet from a sketch notebook from February 21, 2014 that shows Jupiter in two views. It is incomplete in the sense that we teach folks to include more information, but lets talk about that later. Take a look at the sketch first.
What does a doctor do when he sees you? He asks questions, makes notes, looks at your chart, asks more questions, takes some measurements, and maybe even evaluates some test results.
What does a good ditch digger do? A good one has a plan, which is usually a drawing or blue print, unless he can keep all the details in his head. He constantly looks down the line of the ditch to check depth, width, angle or level, and (if he is disciplined) the lay of the land with respect to where water goes so the the ditch does what it is supposed to.
What does a builder do? Checks the measurements of everything, and usually many times. Checks the plans constantly, makes notes, examines the work he is doing often with respect to plans, etc.
Good observing is not just a flash before the eyes. Observing is a practice common to most good work and even play. The most sophisticated types of play require good observation, notes , and pictures to check stance, posture, position, and a dozen other variables.
As a Christian, observing is critical. The fool, aptly described in Proverbs, wanders to all sorts of places he should not be–oblivious of immorality, ignorant of danger, and (most of all) ignorant of God. The believer with a good heart, on the other hand, is counseled to be watchful, which is observing carefully to evaluate the state of his own heart as well as the state of things around him. His foundation is God, who he is exhorted to cleave or draw close to. His reference book (like plans for the builder, a drawing for the ditch digger, or medical references for the doctor) is the Bible.
How do you observe from a biblical view? If done in a disciplined manner, means the observer ponders what is seen, makes notes and even pictures or sketches of what is observed, and (as we teach it) makes an observing record that includes all of this. In the process, however, the observer also considers the Creator of it all. So we encourage the association of the observation with a biblical truth (usually about the heavens or creation)and an observer comment about the observation period. The final result, as it is repeatedly done, becomes a discipline. The discipline generally produces more accurate and fuller observation.
See the example in the sketch above. The partial observing sheet has most of the elements for how and when the observation was made. It includes two sketches for two different magnifications, which are noted. I looked at the planet no less than 40 times during the 20 minute session. The four most prominent moons, called the Galilean moons because of who discovered them, were carefully placed in the larger view (lower magnification) so their position relative to the lines of gases on the huge planet and also relative to each other were approximately correct. The larger view (at higher magnification) was for getting as much detail as I could see on the “bands.”
If I were to turn in the observing sheet to one of the teachers we had trained in the Institute of Foundational Learning in the Philippines, I would add the weather conditions, a pertinent scripture for the observing period, and an observing note. This time, the reader is my “teacher,” so I will tell you the information if I were turning over to you:
Weather: clear, light haze, moderate light pollution
Scripture: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being? Jeremiah 66:1-2
Authors comment: If God took the effort to display the heavens, and Jupiter is so high and bright in the sky at this time, it seemed fitting to take 20 minutes and record everything I could about the “Queen of the Wandering Stars.” While my sketch does not touch the magnificence of the planet, I humbly submit to Him this observation to declare His hand at work. It was an excellent night to give thanks.
So, are you ready to try it yourself? You learn by doing it. And the discipline you learn, if you do it repeatedly, will pay more dividends down the road than you might realize.
Technical note: Many excellent observers will spend hours on a single observation, and produce sketches much better than the one I have shown, which was done quickly.
Reference: Astronomical Observing from a Biblical View (AOBV) is available without cost from the Files Gallery at the www.christworksministries.org site. A brief registration (we don’t share any of the brief information that is required) precedes the download, which is done by chapter. Their are 12 chapters. When we teach teachers how to use it, it takes about 24 hours and 3 observing periods to complete the training.