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Not Comets

Psalm 8:1
“O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.”

There are a number of blurry, indistinct, cloudy-looking objects in the night sky which are not pinpoints of light as the stars are. One hundred ten of these are the so-called Messier objects, which were cataloged by one Charles Messier – a French astronomer who lived from 1730 through 1817. These are a mixture of objects. Some of them we would now call nebulae – quite literally, nebulous clouds of interstellar dust and gas. Examples of these are M8 – the Lagoon Nebula in the constellation of Sagittarius, and M42 – the famous Orion Nebula. Others are star clusters, such as The Pleiades, in Taurus – an object mentioned in the Bible, which is cataloged as M45. Still others are actually other galaxies, such as M104, the Sombrero Galaxy, or M31 – the Andromeda Galaxy.

Why did Messier catalog such a wide variety of different objects without commenting on their differentiation? The answer is that he wasn’t actually interested in those objects. He cataloged them, rather, as a police officer catalogs data from a possible suspect in order to eliminate them from the inquiry. Messier was interested in comets – which also, from a distance, look like blurry objects. The difference is that comets, being Solar System objects, move from night to night, whereas his cataloged objects appear fixed relative to the stars.

The Hebrew word for star includes what we call stars today and other objects, such as Messier’s objects. All were made by God and declare His glory.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that as we look into the heavens at all the objects You have made in this universe, they all speak of Your glory. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: Encyclopaedia Britannica, < https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Messier >, accessed 3/12/2020. Image: Andromeda, showing the Galaxy; CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported.

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