Astronomy


p1324aw_0.jpg_creditNASAWe could be in for a celestial treat this holiday season thanks to a visitor from the distant Oort Cloud. First detected in December 2011, Comet ISON is believed to hold the potential to become the comet of the twenty-first century—if it can survive its trip around the Sun, that is. As I write, this much-anticipated traveler is approaching Mars and can be seen through most backyard telescopes.

Comet ISON is garnering attention in the Christian community for other reasons as well. Some believers claim that the comet’s path—which could take it through the constellation Virgo (the Virgin), the Crown (if it makes it past the Sun), and others—illustrates the story of Jesus. In essence, this idea is similar to the “gospel in the stars” concept that is sometimes attributed to the Christmas star. (more…)

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Young woman praying sincerely with her hands folded and eyes cloThe start of a new year provides opportunities to remember, but most of all it’s a time to look forward. What do we feel when we face the horizon of the future—hope or dread?

Though the future can be a scary prospect, Scripture is filled with reminders to “be not afraid.” (more…)

Next Saturday night (September 29) we’ll have a full moon over Southern California. As the legend goes, a full moon means an increase in lycanthropy—more commonly known as werewolf transformations! Monster-movie fan Sandra finds plenty of theological meat to chew on while watching her favorite creature features (like 1941’s The Wolf Man). She explains, “Werewolves are both human and monster. In a sense, they outwardly represent the inward struggle we all have between our greatness and wretchedness (the imago Dei and our sin nature).” (more…)

Curiosity
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Named for the Roman god of war, our red-tinged planetary neighbor continually draws our fascination. In fiction, Mars

is often the source of malevolent alien invaders. In space exploration, it’s an important destination for NASA rovers—such as Curiosity, which landed on Mars earlier this month.

Of all the things we learn about Mars through the rovers, nothing seems to grab public attention like hints of water. Although the research is exciting, RTB astronomer Hugh Ross cautions that water on Mars does not guarantee the past (or present) existence of Martian life: (more…)

NASA/JPL

My sisters and I may have been raised in the same home, by the same parents, but our personalities couldn’t be more different. I’m the pragmatic oldest sibling, the middle sister is enigmatic, and the youngest is dynamic.

Like human siblings, “sister planets” Earth and Venus share some features in common, but they also differ from each other. They are nearly the same size (Earth is the bigger of the two) and study indicates that, like Earth, Venus was once covered by liquid water.

But, today, these two celestial bodies possess drastically disparate environments. Earth is vibrant and teeming with biodiversity; Venus is barren and incapable of supporting life. What happened to make these “sisters” go their separate ways? (more…)

My husband and I have experienced a spate of “interesting” next-door neighbors over the last year. As a new set of neighbors recently moved in, I couldn’t help praying they’d turn out to be a nice, normal family—with a sense of volume control. Having grown up surrounded by such families, I appreciate the value of good neighbors.

Similarly, Earth needs good neighbors, too. The solar system’s occupants influence Earth’s ability to support life. Take the gas giant planets, for example. (more…)

It saddens me that my children will grow up seeing only eight planets on the posters at school, whereas I grew up with nine. As of August 2006, Pluto has been classified as a dwarf planet. RTB astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink isn’t as sentimental as I am about Pluto—he understands and appreciates the reasons for the former planet’s demotion. (more…)

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