Seeing Stars

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

“Stars Fell On Alabama” has always been a favorite song of Alabamians. It has been a phrase that has been used when some great accomplishment is made or some goal is reached.

That phrase now has a different meaning. What we knew about stars a few years ago has drastically changed. An article in USA TODAY, on December 2, 2010, stated that the star count today has tripled!! That’s a lot more stars to fall on Alabama!

Part of this increase in the number of stars is explained in an issue of “Nature“. It suggested that a lot of other types of galaxies, known as round-shaped “elliptical” galaxies, have been discovered. They are even thicker with stars.

Another explanation is that there are far more “red dwarf” stars than we ever knew. Red dwarfs are dim stars, much smaller than normal (half the size of our sun), and harder to detect. In describing the size of red dwarf stars as small – that makes “small” a relative term. When you relate small to being “half the size of our sun” – that’s big to me!

The bottom line is that astronomers have misunderstood how many stars were found in the earliest galaxies, and they had mistakenly projected that stars are distributed singularly throughout all galaxies regardless of their type.

Based on this new data, Martin White of the University of California-Berkeley, says the universe likely consists of at least 300 sextillion stars (300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 – “that’s a lot of 0’s”), which is triple the previous estimates.

The celebration of Christmas is about “seeing stars.” There are a lot of stars in the sky now. There were a lot of stars in the sky 2,000 years ago. But there was a special star. Some wise men saw it and started following it.

The number of the stars in the sky is not as important as the capacity to see the important star. During this Christmas season, please don’t spend your time trying to count all the stars in the sky – just look for the most important star that leads to Jesus Christ.

While it is interesting to note that recent discoveries have tripled the number of stars, my prayer would be that this Christmas season will more than triple the number of people who see the real star – the star that takes us to Bethlehem to experience the love of God revealed in Jesus!

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