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Discovery Magazine 5/1/1997

Our Big Universe

Have you ever gone outside on a clear, summer evening and looked up into the night sky? Isn’t it a beautiful sight—with all the shining, twinkling stars? Scientists tell us that we can see about 3,000 stars just by using our eyes. But if we use a simple telescope, we can see over 100,000 stars! Can you imagine how big this Universe must be in order to hold that many stars?

Our Universe, however, has many more stars than that. Astronomers (scientists who study planets, stars, and other things in space) suggest that our Universe has over 25 sextillion stars in it (that’s the number 25, followed by 21 zeros!). They also say it contains over one billion galaxies, each of which has around 100 billion individual stars.

In fact, the Universe is so large that scientists had to develop a rather unusual way to measure it. For example, when you take a trip in a car or on a plane, you may ask your father or mother how far it is and how long it will take to get there. They might answer, "Well, it’s 375 miles, and it will take us about 6 hours."

But our Universe is so big that scientists measure it by how long it takes light to go from one spot to another. Light moves so fast that it can go approximately 186,000 miles in one second! That means in a year, light can go almost six trillion miles. Astronomers call this a "light-year" because it represents the distance that light travels in one year.

The diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy (in which our solar system and the Earth, are located) is 100,000 light-years across. That means it is so big that even if you could travel at the speed of light, it still would take 100,000 years just to go across our own galaxy (you would go about 587 quadrillion miles, and you still would have been in only a single galaxy). If somehow you were able to go from one end of the Universe to the other, astronomers believe it would take you 20 billion years—even traveling at the speed of light! What a marvelous Universe this is in which we live.

And how marvelous is our God Who created it! Many years ago, when David was Israel’s king, he looked at the night sky and said, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament [sky] shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). When David peered into the heavens, he was reminded of how powerful God must be if He can create a Universe this big. In the New Testament, the writer of the book of Hebrews said this: "...He who built the house has more honor than the house" (3:3). In other words, a man who builds a house certainly is greater than the house he constructed. A man who makes a car certainly is greater than the car he designed. A man who invents an airplane certainly is greater than the airplane he developed. The writer of Hebrews was trying to teach us something important about God by using an illustration that everyone could understand. The thing that is made is never greater, or better, than the one who made it. If this Universe is so grand and so impressive, then think how grand and how impressive, must be our God Who designed and created it. The writer of Hebrews went on to say this in the next verse: "For every house is built by someone, but He that built all things is God" (3:4).

Yes, we may live in a grand and marvelous Universe. But we should always remember that it was our grand and marvelous God Who created it in the first place. And we should always give Him the credit and honor He is due as our Creator.



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