Can you catch the eye
of the beautiful Pleiades sisters?
Or distract Orion from his hunt?
Can you get Venus to look your way?
Or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out to play?
Do you know the first thing
about the sky’s constellations?

I’m speechless in awe ...
Words fail me!

        The Book of Job in the Bible
Highbury Astronomy Page
It’s wonderful to look up at the night sky and see the vastness of the universe.  IWas it the brightness of a planet or the wonder of a conjunction that inspired the story of the Wise Men and the star?  Seeing brilliantly bright Venus close to a crescent moon or a conjunction of Mars, Saturn and Venus low in the Western sky many years ago was wonderful!  It made me think of the wise men, that star and the way we are all made from star dust!

Look at Venus through binoculars or a telescope and you will see that at the moment it is a crescent!  This is a photo I took with my camera through a telescope.

One moment it’s there
The next it’s sunk
Out of sight
Out of mind
A crescent moon
And Venus at its brightest

And each of us
Is stardust!
As if we each bear
The imprint
Of that moment of creation
Long ago

And in this babe
That imprint
More perfect than ever
The imprint
Of nothing less than
The creator

Deserving of gold
For the king of kings
Who is prince of peace

Deserving of incense
Drawing so close to us
In the wonder of prayer

Deserving of myrrh
Sharing our darkness
In the despair of death

From stardust to stardust
We return
And in the new life we share
We  bear the imprint
Of the creator
To eternity.
My favourite Astronomy Web Sites

If you want to print off a star chart that will show you everything to look for in the Night Sky then is the place to go. Not only can you print off a chart of the night sky for this month, it will also point out the highlights to look for. I have found a 10 x 50 pair of binoculars is the best thing to use ... Much better than a telescope especially if you are starting out!

If you want to make your own Star Wheel to identify the stars on any night Uncle Al’s Star Wheel is very simple to make and an excellent guide to the stars!

The next program to look out for is a Planetarium program. This will give you a map of the night sky for the very night you are looking. The best one to start with is the one that comes on the Sky and Telescope site. Get permission before downloading the java applet.

For a much more detailed Planetarium program the one my friends at the Scout World Jamboree recommended was Stellarium.  It’s a superb program and one I will be using from now on!

The next treat is to find a map of the Moon. This
interactive moon is great fun: you may have to duck the meteors! This is a good chart of the moon too!

The Astro Mini Course is a brilliant introductory course on Astronomy ... It comes from the One Minute Astronomer web site.  You can subscribe to their regular ‘one minute’ mailings on astronomy too:

The One Minute Astronomer’s Astro Mini Course
Day 1 - A Whirlwind Tour of the Night Sky
Day 2 - How the sky moves
Day 3 - Short Tours of the Night Sky
Day 4 - Telescopes and Binoculars: the Basics
Day 5 - How to see faint things in the Night

If you want an introduction to Astronomy then try the BBC Astronomy site! You can meet up with Patrick Moore there!

Another good introductory site is The Society for Popular Astronomy.  Rob Lacey, one of our church members, recommends this one highly!

Another really good introduction to the night sky is at the intriguingly titled Space Weather site.

On the International Year of Astronomy web site there is a brilliant set of videos available to download on the International Year of Astronomy Web Site together with a great series called Eyes on the Skies.

And for a flight into space try the NASA site!

It was great to welcome Duncan Willoughby  of the Cotswold Astronomical Society to Cubs.  He stayed on to give another talk to parents and friends as well.  The plan was to bring telescopes and to do some star gazing - but as ever it was cloudy.  He gave a brilliant talk with lots of slides explaining how stars come into being.

Since the 400th Anniversary year of Galileo’s first use of a telescope the story has been told time and again of the way parts of the church took offence at Galileo’s work.  What hasn’t been told so much is the fascination his work had for many of Christian faith.  One of those overawed by the telescope was the great English poet, George Herbert.  Click here to read about George Herbert’s awe at seeing through a telescope.

One of my favourite introductions to Astronomy and the Universe is Bang! The Complete History of the Universe by Patrick Moore, Brian May and  Chris Lintott.  When I first read it I was particularly struck by comments they made about the relationship between science and religion.  It prompted me to write a reflection for Highbury News.  Click here to read those reflections on the relationship between science and religion.

I was delighted to mark the 200th Anniversary of Charles Darwin, and the 150th Anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species.  I see no conflict between my Christian faith and the theory of evolution.  You can read some of my reflections on Darwin, science and religion here!give another talk to parents and friends as well.  The plan was to bring telescopes and to do some star gazing - but as ever it was cloudy.  He gave a brilliant talk with lots of slides explaining how stars come into being.