Tunnel Vision

I like gazing up at the starry night. However growing up in Manila, my view of the night sky is blocked by the smog, the overcrowded houses with their roofs cluttered with TV antennae, the clothes hanging in the clothesline (ours and the neighbors), and the bright lights of the bustling city.

Now, I have the privilege of living in a country setting here in Iowa. I even live in a housing community that deliberately planned on not putting street lamps to preserve the ‘country-feel’ environment. My view of the night sky is obviously very different from what I am used to see.

Last year I bought a Meade DS2000 telescope, so me and my kids can further study the starry sky. I was thrilled to see the craters of the moon very clearly. But when I aimed my telescope at a star, I believe it was Betelgeuse, the little speck of light turned into…… a slightly bigger speck of light. I was disappointed. I was expecting to see much better details. I guess, I was expecting too much from my telescope. After all, it’s not the Hubble telescope.

 

Star V838 Monocerotis (photo courtesy of hubblesite.org)

 

 

Few weeks ago, James Burr, a well known astronomer and a telescope designer for NASA, visited our church here in Des Moines. He gave us interesting lectures and showed beautiful images of the stars, galaxies and nebulas (most of the images are from the Hubble space telescope). My first reaction was, man, I have to get me a better telescope! But then I learned that it cost $1 Billion just for the mission to repair the Hubble telescope in 2009, and overall it already cost $10 Billion since Hubble was launched 20 years ago.

What really struck me was when Mr. Burr told us that after the repair of Hubble telescope last year, it was focused to survey a tiny spot of space. The area it was aimed to was so small, that the diameter is as if you are looking into the sky through a drinking straw. However the image it captured in this small area showed not just a hundred stars. Not just a thousand stars. Not even just a million stars! What it showed was about 10,000 galaxies! (Our galaxy, the Milky Way contain 200 billion stars.) 10,000 x 200 billion stars in such a narrow vision field of a straw??!! This gave me a new meaning to the term tunnel vision.

 

Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image (photo courtesy of hubblesite.org)

 

It is very easy to get hung up in our own little world and our own little problem. People often times have tunnel vision, that they don’t see the bigger scheme of things. But then again, how big is this universe that God aimed His vision in this tiny speck of a planet, in such a tiny speck of galaxy. I suppose, that is such a tunnel vision too, that He even cared for you and me.

Psalm 8:3-4: When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?

I thought the bigger question, as my son just asked me recently, is “How big is God?” I will not even venture to answer that question.

As for my puny telescope? Well, I am still keeping it. It is still good for spying on the neighbors.

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