The Lyrid meteor shower has been observed on our planet for more than 2,600 years. It gets its name from the fact that it seems from our perspective to originate from the constellation Lyra.
The Lyrids are pieces left behind by the comet C/1861 G. Each year, our planet passes through a cloud of debris left from an earlier visit by this comet. These particles collide with our upper atmosphere at a speed of about twenty-seven miles per second.
The Lyrids peak in mid-April and can cause nearly one hundred meteors to be visible per hour. While this year’s peak was in the predawn hours this morning, there will be a new moon tonight, which will give us another excellent chance to witness nature’s light show in the sky.
The grandeur of the universe is a constant reminder of the grandeur of its Creator.
If you could travel at the speed of light (186,232 miles per second), you could circle our planet 7.5 times in one second. You could travel to the moon and back in 2.51 seconds.
But a new study estimates that it would take you 200,000 years to cross the Milky Way. And it would take you 93 billion years to cross the observable universe.
How large is all of that to God? He “measured the sky between his thumb and little finger” (Isaiah 40:12 MSG).
President Theodore Roosevelt and his good friend, the naturalist William Beebe, would occasionally stay at Roosevelt’s family home. They would walk out onto its lawn at night. They would search the skies until they found the faint spot of light behind the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Then they would remember together the words:
That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda.
It is as large as our Milky Way.
It is one of a hundred million galaxies.
It consists of one hundred billion suns,
Each larger than our sun.
Then President Roosevelt would grin at Mr. Beebe and say, “Now I think we are small enough. Let’s go to bed.”
A reflection on the staggering omnipotence and intimate love of our Father
The immensity of the universe reminds us of the finitude of humans. But it can teach us a second lesson as well: our Creator considered our eternal life worth the death of his Son.
Jesus didn’t die for the Lyrid meteor shower or the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda or the Milky Way. In fact, all of that will be gone one day, replaced by “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). But ten thousand millennia after the last star has vanished, you and I will still be alive. If Christ is your Lord, you will be with him in paradise forever.
In these days of coronavirus pandemic and all the fears it brings, it’s good to step outside and see the power of your Father on display. But it’s also good to reflect on the fact that you are his creative miracle as well and that he loves you with all the passion of omnipotence.
St. Augustine noted: “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of the mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
The next time you’d like to see proof of God’s creative brilliance, look in a mirror.