now for something completely different

One of my life-long interests is space exploration. I wrote papers on it in junior and senior high school. I avidly followed the news of space exploration as a teenager. I remember lying in bed at kids camp, listening to the radio broadcast of “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The day was July 20, 1969 and I was 12 years old. The sounds of that crackly radio and the silence in my cabin at camp come back to me whenever I think about it.

One of the best ways I’ve found to feed my interest in space exploration is to subscribe to the NASA website with BlogLines. You can tap into it here. I don’t read every article in its entirety, but I scan all the headlines and read a good many of them. (There are often excellent sermon illustrations to be found as well.)

This week, something new came back to us from space.

The Messenger spacecraft took never before seen pictures of the planet Mercury and beamed them back to earth. You can read the full article by Mercury1clicking on the image of Mercury.

It is fascinating to be able to see the barren landscape of the planet closest to the sun. Messenger was about 124 miles up when these pictures were taken, so we have a fairly close look.

The pictures are of a side of Mercury never before seen by earth scientists. The pictures are generating a good deal of excitement. Mercury has a unique orbit, an ellipse, that takes only 88 earth days to complete. But the planet spins in such a way that one day on Mercury takes 176 earth days, or two Mercury years. You can see an animation of what a day is like on Mercury, with the sun appearing to proceed across the sky, hesitate, go back a bit, then proceed the rest of the way until it sets below the horizon.

The combination of orbit and proximity to the sun produce vast temperature swings on Mercury. On the daylight side, temperatures can reach 800 degrees F, on the dark side they can drop to -300 F. Not a hospitable place, even for a fundamentalist!

For other cool pictures of space, check NASA’s galleries. This cool picture of Saturn is my laptop’s wallpaper. This picture of Mars from the Hubble Telescope graces my desktop computer screen.

The mysteries of creation are revealed in pictures like this. Some of them, anyway, even though unbelieving scientists don’t see it. I find it all fascinating. Best of all, it highlights the might and power of our Creator God.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3


  1. Joel says:

    I love this stuff too.

  2. hey, Joel, good to hear from you. I am sure you can find all kinds of info for your Dull Sodder chronicles in the NASA site.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3