I love Milwaukee! It's such a great city with so many little known places just waiting to be explored. My sister invited my family to come to the New Berlin Observatory, home of the Milwaukee Astronomical Society, for a night of star-gazing. The temperatures were pleasantly cool, the sky was clear, the family was eager and so off we went.
|New Berlin Observatory (Photo source: Milwaukee Astronomical Society)|
The observatory was in an open field nestled within scenic woods in the rural part of New Berlin. The building where they give talks is a former World War II shelter and there are several interesting, small buildings on the grounds. The flat buildings have retractable roofs that slide over to allow the telescopes to stand upright. The round buildings, appearing very much like silos, have openings in the roof that allow the telescopes to peek out, and the roofs also rotate so that the sky can be viewed from any angle. Very cool!
We heard a talk about Mars and how scientists are discovering signs of frozen water that could prove that some forms of life could possibly exist on the red planet; not human life, of course, but microbes or other small forms that can survive extreme situations such as the brine shrimp that live in Utah's Great Salt Lake. It's amazing what we can discover in a place so far from home.
"God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars." ~Genesis 1:16
The sky was so wondrously clear and free from light pollution, making the stars more clearly visible, that with our naked eyes we could see the redness of Mars and the brightness of Jupiter. But when we peered through the high-powered telescopes we saw storms on Jupiter, the moons of Mars and the ring on Saturn. It was fantastic!
|Photo by Tamas Kriska (source: Milwaukee Astronomical Society)|
One of the club members shared some fascinating information with us about astronomy. He said that because of the speed of light, when an astronomer is looking at a far-away galaxy, he is actually seeing stars from 200 billion years ago! He's looking into history and seeing stars that aren't even there anymore! Of course this made me think of the timelessness of God and of how St. Padre Pio prays for people to have a happy death even though they had died many years before. It's such a hard concept to grasp! But harder still is what the club member shared next.
"Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are built of star stuff."—Carl Sagan, Cosmos
I wish I had my notebook with me, but even if I had taken notes, I wouldn't be able to properly explain or fully understand it all. He told us that the sun consists of helium, hydrogen and lithium. Everything else in the universe that does not have those three elements in it, is the result of a star exploding, including the human body! In other words, our bodies consist of the same matter that is found in the stars in the sky! How's that for a sign of the magnificence of God? We are meant to shine with His glory at all times! Shine on, my friends, sparkle and glitter to glorify the Lord!
"I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun" ~Thomas Merton
To learn more about how our bodies contain atoms dating back to the Big Bang, visit this link.
To learn more about what Catholics believe regarding the Big Bang, here's a good explanation.
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14