Five years ago we bought a cheap telescope, but never got it to work well on anything other than the moon. It was basically a waste. We stored in our living room, which made our family appear rather intelligent (“You have a telescope!”), but the only thing it was good for was collecting dust. We weren’t intelligent enough to make it work.
Last month we just got a new telescope, an 8” Dobsonian from Orion, a high school graduation present for my son Noah who loves astronomy. (It looks like a cannon.) Over the course of the weekend, Noah and I put it together. But for the next 10 days it seemed like every night was cloudy or rainy, so we couldn’t take it out at night.
When we finally did have a clear night, it was difficult to find a spot to see anything because of the houses and trees (we have five enormous pin oaks in our backyard). We also had a hard time getting the image in focus, and we weren’t able to use the View-Finder properly. When we thought we were looking at a Saturn, there weren’t rings because we were looking at a star.
Another telescope disappointment.
We persisted. We adjusted our View-Finder during the day time (“Oh, that’s why everything was off!”). We figured out the best place to get a clear view of the sky. And God finally cooperated with a clear sky.
We decided to try to see Venus in the west just after sunset. It’s hard to miss Venus, it’s the brightest object in the sky after the sun and the moon, although, you can only see before dawn or after dusk.
We got it lined up, and there it was—a Venus Crescent. Amazing. After our family and some of the neighbors saw Venus we turned to our next object.
It wasn’t nearly as bright as Venus, but it was nearby, also in the west near the horizon. As it slowly came into view, we located it through the View-Finder and there is was—a Jupiter Ball. But it got better, as slowly tiny pinpricks of light on either side of Jupiter appeared until we could see all four of the big ones (Ganymede, Io, Europa, and Callisto). Wow. Unfortunately, we missed the Venus & Jupiter conjunction at the end of June, where they were right next to each other.
After Venus and Jupiter moved closer to the horizon and were blocked by distant trees and houses, we turned to our final object. Noah lined it up, then said, “Dad, check it out” and he signed “Shush.” I looked through the lens—A Ringed Saturn. Incredible. Noah wanted me to keep quiet, but I couldn’t.
Our experience of seeing Venus, Jupiter and Saturn reminds me of Psalm 19,
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Psa. 19:1).
I connect to God through his creation, as I experience his amazing handiwork. I’m humbled by the work on his fingers (see Psalm 8:4).
If you live locally and would like to be humbled and look at a few planets with us, come over about 8:00 Saturday night (tomorrow, July 25, 2015). It’s supposed to be clear. Let us know you’re coming.
This image of a half-moon was taken last night as I held my cell phone camera over the lens.