I have always loved space. I love the science behind space exploration, and the pioneering souls who take on such boundless adventures thrill me. Last weekend I went to the Kennedy Space Center for the first time. I walked around wide-eyed and enchanted by everything I read and saw.
What I love most about space and what fills me with the most dread are one and the same: its immense and unceasing span. Space stretches on in grandeur for light years. It is endless.
NASA finds purpose and determination in this endlessness. We know that the Milky Way is a little blip of a galaxy among many others; we know that within the Milky Way, the Sun is one little blip of an average-sized star; and we know that Earth is a little blip of a planet in the average-sized star’s solar system. Since the Hubble Telescope launched into a low-Earth orbit in 1990, we have seen things we never imagined and learned things we never thought to know. Hubble data have given insight to astronomers, astrophysicists and engineers alike. But we want to see and know more.
So NASA pushes on. The James Webb Telescope, which is slated to be launched some time next year, is to reach farther and see deeper into the infrared wavelengths that fill space. What exactly are we looking for now? What else should we look for? The journey to and through space is more than just a trip to see if we can put and keep mankind on Mars. It is more than getting closer to Jupiter’s storm. It is more than using asteroids as planetary stepping-stones. We are looking for our purpose. We are looking for our origins. We are looking for others.
Yet no amount of celestial roaming will appease. The answers are not in another galaxy or rare alignment of stars or peculiar planets. God explains simply what he created in Genesis 1. He created “two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.” And the stars, written almost as an addendum, were not an afterthought. The innumerable stars that dot the sky were created and placed by God as a display of his power and might.
These stars point to our Creator. Psalm 19 announces: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” A thousand more telescopes with gold-plated beryllium mirrors will never give the answers that God hasn’t. The brilliant network of stars that we look upon in the darkness show us God’s work.
The night sky’s expanse should not leave us asking if there are others out there. The expanse should draw our hearts to the Lord who created us. With reverent awe we must praise him because he is mindful of us—tiny people on a blip of a planet in a dinky solar system that is a speck in the cosmos. And this cosmos is the work of his fingers (Ps. 8).