Traveling Starlight

ASTRONOMY IS A FIELD OF STUDY that evokes awe and wonder at every turn. Despite my decades of research, I am still amazed that we can we take thousands of digital images through our telescopes, recording starlight that has been traveling through space for hundreds or thousands of years. The optics and electronics open up another level of understanding the mystery of God’s creation.

I remember the first time I analyzed an eclipsing binary. This phenomenon looks like a single star, but it is actually two stars orbiting around one another. We couldn’t see the two stars individually in the camera, but we disentangled their combined light to reveal their temperatures, shapes, masses, and all of their primary physical characteristics.

We mathematically modeled the light curves, and what was hidden to the naked eye and even the telescope became clear: two distinct stars, millions of years old. Unlocked through technology, science, and mathematics — all from thousands of light years away! I pulled back from my work feeling like I had just uncovered a hidden treasure that no one had ever seen before.

Astronomy teaches me that God has left clues all around us to invite us to share in the delight of His universe, an invitation that requires us to learn how to look and how to decipher. But even those skills are provided to us by Him as we learn more and more about how He sustains His creation. The world around us is an invitation to wonder, and discover...then discover, and wonder. Even after all of these years, it’s mind-blowing to me!

This article was originally featured in the Spring 2019 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.