One of the truly incredible things about gazing up at the stars is that we are actually looking back in time on account of the inestimable distances between us and the heavenly bodies. For example, the Sun is 149.6 million kilometers away from the earth and its light takes a little over 8 minutes to reach us. This means that if the sun were to all of a sudden “go out,” we wouldn’t notice any difference for another 8 minutes. Alpha Centauri, one of our nearest neighbors, is 4.37 lightyears away from us (which means that its light takes 4.37 years to reach us). So, when we look at Alpha Centauri (which is actually a binary star system) we are actually seeing the star as it was over 4 years ago.
Now, this all gets really interesting when we start looking at objects a little further away. With the Hubble Space Telescope, one of the largest space telescopes ever built, we are now able to gaze deep into space, picking out objects much further away than Alpha Centauri. Perhaps the most amazing discovery from Hubble was the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image, taken in 2004 (check out this FAQ). Astronomers decided to point the telescope at one of the emptiest and darkest regions of the sky, to see if there was anything hidden in the inky blackness. What they discovered was more incredible than anything anyone could have imagined…
This mind-blowing image reveals the incomprehensible immensity of the cosmos, but has also given us fascinating insights into the early stages of the universe. For an explanation of the image, check out the awesome video below. You can also take a look at this graphic that helps put everything into perspective.
As mind-blowing as this image is, it’s even more incredible that God created all this…with a word.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. – (Genesis 1:14-18)
And the stars. Billions of galaxies full of trillions of stars, mentioned almost as if they were an afterthought. He simply speaks and the universe explodes into being.
That’s our God.