My inner Nerd Girl got to experience some real excitement this week!
The James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest images of the distant universe to date, according to a special web site created by NASA, who released the first of the images to the public earlier this week (link HERE).
These images of our amazing universe serve to remind me that religion and science need not be seen as opposed to each other. Who can look at these astonishing images and not see evidence of a Creator?
At any rate, I couldn’t resist sharing some of them in a blog post.
First, here is an artist’s rendition of the telescope. Launched in December 2021, the telescope is about the size of a tennis court, according to NASA, and will operate nearly a million miles beyond Earth’s orbit around the sun. (And I thought my little camera with the 40X zoom lens was fabulous.)
Webb will spend the next 20 years or so collecting data to help scientists study the farthest reaches of the known universe.
The image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, known as Webb’s First Deep Field, gives us a sense of the sheer vastness of the universe. Just think: Each speck of light in the image below is an entire galaxy, except for the brighter specks with spikes, which are stars in our own galaxy.
Each galaxy, in turn, may contain billions of stars, moons and planets. Compared to the universe as a whole, the slice of universe shown in this image is equivalent to the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground, according to NASA.
Sort of boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
When I look at this photo, I’m immediately reminded of Genesis 1:3: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.”
The next image is the Carina Nebula, the largest nebula in our own Milky Way galaxy. The nebula is the part of the image which resembles a mountaintop.
It looks solid, but is actually a giant cloud of gas and dust where stars are born, according to NASA. The stars are formed from the dust in the nebula.
Read Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Then look at this image. Wow. God certainly is an artist!
What looks like a cosmic fireworks display in the image below is Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies. Some of the galaxies are so close they bump into each other, forming new stars, according to NASA.
If we think our Fourth of July fireworks are spectacular, just look at God’s fireworks …
The galaxy group is visible from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. Stephan’s Quintet is perhaps best known for being prominently featured in the classic Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The next image, of the Southern Ring Nebula, shows how a star similar to our sun looks as it is dying. The star has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years, according to NASA.
Does this image look like a giant cosmic eye, or what? It brings to mind Job 28:24: “For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens.”
NASA has made its entire collection of images, sounds and video available and publicly searchable online, including more than 140,000 photos and other resources we can download and use any way we like.
The images are available to everyone free of charge and free of copyright restrictions – NASA simply asks to be acknowledged as the source of the material. Their entire collection can be accessed via NASA’s Image and Video Library (link HERE).
And I’m not the only one who thinks our amazing universe points to the existence of a Creator. Turns out many of the the astronauts and other scientists who work at NASA share a strong faith as well.
According to an article in the Houston Chronicle (link HERE), Webster Presbyterian, just down the road from NASA’s mission control center in Houston. is spiritual home to dozens of NASA scientists, engineers, astronauts, lunar mission contractors and their families.
The church, now known as the Church of the Astronauts, has stained glass windows featuring images of the moon, the stars and distant nebulae. How cool is that?