Would you like to peek into heaven? On a clear, dark night, go outside and look up. Imagine that those tiny specks of light you see are peepholes into heaven. Imagine that God poked holes in the night sky to let some of heaven’s glory shine down on us.
Nonsense! you say—those are just stars! You’re right. They are stars—huge, mysterious, magnificent, and many more than we can count. They are not holes in the sky, but by reflecting their Creator’s glory, you might say they really are peepholes into heaven.
Scientists think that stars are huge spinning balls of burning gasses. Some scientists say that they are exploding gasses, but the explosions are controlled by gravity, so the star doesn’t fly apart.
We have explosions on earth too. Fireworks are one example. Think of how bright those showers of light look in the night sky.
But that’s nothing compared to the brightness of one star. There’s so much gas burning in one star that you can see the light billions of miles away. There’s so much gas in one star that it could burn continuously for millions, or billions, of years. There’s so much power in that burning gas that we can’t begin to imagine it.
And, remember, there are more stars than we can count. We can’t begin to imagine or describe the energy, the power, that burns in our night sky. God’s power shines brightly through these peepholes.
The Christmas Star
The Star of Bethlehem, which the Wise Men saw after Jesus’ birth, was special. Scientists can’t tell us about this one. Some think it was a comet—a “star” with a tail. Maybe the tail pointed to Bethlehem.
Comets travel in paths we can predict. We can also figure backwards in time to discover what comets might have been around in a certain year. But astronomers don’t think there was a comet in the sky after Jesus was born.
Some think that several planets appeared close to each other at that time. Planets do that sometimes. But they never appear to be one bright star.
Some think the Star of Bethlehem was a supernova—a star that explodes and then dies. That would make a special, bright light. But astronomers back then never said anything about such a bright star.
Some people think that God created this special star for this special purpose. Only God can control stars.
We know one thing for sure. The Christmas star was not a peephole into heaven. It was a spotlight on Jesus, the Door to heaven.
How many stars are out there? Zillions?
No one knows for sure, but many scientists guess there are at least 100 billion galaxies (large groups of stars) in the part of the universe that we can see with our telescopes.
They guess that each galaxy might have about 100 billion stars in it. That makes 10 sextillion stars altogether. That’s 10 with 21 zeros behind it! A big number! We say “zillions” because we can’t possibly count that high.
That number is way beyond what we can imagine. But it’s also a big comfort. Here’s how.
Read Isaiah 40:25-26 and Luke 12:6-7. Just think: the Creator of zillions of stars can count and name them. And that same Creator knows the number of hairs on our heads. God is so powerful, but he cares about each one of us, no matter how small.
- Stars seem to move from east to west during the night. But they really don’t move. We do. Earth rotates, or spins around, from west to east, so the stars look like they’re moving from east to west, even though they’re not.
- Stars also seem to move to different spots in the sky during the year. That’s because the earth is “tilted,” and it travels around the sun once a year. We look at stars from different angles at different times of the year.
- But stars do not stay absolutely still. Scientists tell us that stars do move. Each has its own speed and its own direction. But the stars are so far from us, they seem to stand still.
- Stars also spin as they move through space. Sometimes one part of a star spins faster than another part.
- There’s more. Our galaxy (Earth, nearby planets, and our “close” stars, including the sun) is hurtling through space. Scientists think that we travel 600 kilometers (372 miles) every second. All galaxies hurtle through space. They don’t all go at the same speed. What a complicated, delightful dance of the stars! God’s wisdom and creativity certainly shine through these peepholes.
Want to dance like a star? Grab a friend and a rubber ball. One person will be a star, the other will be Earth. The ball will be your sun.
Place the ball in the middle of an open space. Both people stand near it. Read number 1 of “Dancing Stars” and copy those motions. (Star: Stand still. Earth: Slowly turn.)
When you can do number 1, add number 2 to your motions. (Star: Stand still. Earth: Slowly turn in circles as you walk around the “sun.”)
When you can do those things, add the motions from number 3. (Star: Begin walking slowly in one direction.)
Then add the motions of number 4. (Star: Start spinning as you walk.)
Look at you—you’re star dancing!
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