What a source of cheer and inspiration the heavens are! Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is amazing. Venus captured through filters by a backyard telescope and a video camera. A modest 12-inch scope, plus modern equipment allows home capture of images better than the best of the world’s biggest telescopes, say, fifty years ago.
You don’t need a telescope, or even prime rural viewing to appreciate that evening star in the west, high and bright. Over the next three months, it will appear to draw closer to the sun–and brighten a bit more. The culmination: transit!
Venus crosses the sun’s disk as seen from Earth on a regular basis: two transits are spaced apart by eight years. Then earthlings wait over a century for another pair.
I wasn’t too concerned my vista clouded up eight years ago. I knew I’d have one more chance in 2012.
Where does your locale fit on the transit map? Here at my home, we’ll get to see the start of the event, but it will still be in progress at sunset. Clouds, please stay away!
I recommend this informative and diversely interesting site dedicated to the transit of Venus. One of the features there is a sermon given on the occasion of the 1882 transit by Rev George Dana Boardman, pastor of Philadelphia’s First Baptist Church. An excerpt:
The issue of all that has been said to-night is in a word of cheer to all who love God: and the word of cheer is this: Trust your heavenly Father absolutely. All nature is pledged to the inviolability of God’s promises, and therefore all nature is pledged to give you good cheer. You can not be loyal to infinite God in vain. As neither man nor Satan can break God’s covenant with nature, so neither man nor Satan can break God’s covenant of grace.
Let the wise men of science convene in congress; let the high priests of nature gather in solemn conclave; let them deliberate and decree, saying: “Venus, cross not the sun’s disk; light, slacken thy speed; earth, cease to roll; gravitation, lay down they force.” But lo, Venus does cross the sun’s disk; light does throb as swiftly as ever; earth does continue to roll; gravitation does still balance creation.
You can not break God’s ordinances of heaven and earth, God’s covenant of day and night, God’s laws of nature. These He has solemnly pledged as the guarantee of His own personal veracity, bidding us accept the constitution of the physical universe as the very oath and sacrament of the inviolability of His promises in Jesus Christ; and so by these two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon he hope set before us.
Strong as that oath and sacrament was in the prophet’s day, how much stronger it is in ours, when the telescope daily brings us fresh instances of the inviolability of natural law! Every fulfillment of an astronomical prediction is a fresh witness to the veracity of God’s promises. He is in very truth the covenant-keeping God.
Let not, then, the transit of Venus to-day speak to you in vain. Let its celestial eloquence cheer and inspire you. Go forth, my brother, in the strengthened conviction that your Father in heaven is to be supremely trusted. Ay, blessed are all they who put their trust in Him.