This Week in History: How Big is the Universe?


Never lose the wonder of the great galaxy we live in.

Oh, wait, change that to universe. Apparently, we’re not the only galaxy in the neighborhood. I know that’s old news, but consider that statement from the perspective of just a century ago.

Just the Milky Way by itself is a big deal. It’s somewhere between100,000 and 120,000 light years across, depending on traffic and how many red lights you hit. And it contains over 300 billion stars (not counting Ben Affleck).  Just pondering the greatest of the Milky Way leads me to join the psalmist:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge (Ps. 19:1-2).

We live on an incredible planet … in an incredible solar system … in a incredible galaxy.

edwin-hubble

Edwin Hubble

Then along came Edwin Hubble. Hubble was an astronomer who, in the early 1920s, began observing several  spiral nebulae, and by his calculations, they were too far away to be a part of our galaxy. On December 30, 1924, Hubble published his findings, announcing to the world that our galaxy was only one of many.

This tidbit was not well received by his colleagues, but his findings held, and today we commonly accept that the universe is made up of billions of galaxies. And if each of those galaxies has billions of stars … well, you do the math.

Feel small yet?

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them? (Ps. 8:3-4)

Each new discovery and advancement in science only draws me closer to the wonder and majesty of the God who created it all.

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