Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Virgo cluster


Virgo cluster
Credit & Copyright: GŁnter Kerschhuber (Gahberg Observatory)
(Click on image for larger view)

Explanation: The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies is the closest cluster of galaxies to our Milky Way Galaxy. The Virgo Cluster is so close that it spans more than 5 degrees on the sky – about 10 times the angle made by a full Moon. With its heart lying about 70 million light years distant, the Virgo Cluster is the nearest cluster of galaxies, contains over 2,000 galaxies, and has a noticeable gravitational pull on the galaxies of the Local Group of Galaxies surrounding our Milky Way Galaxy. The cluster contains not only galaxies filled with stars but also gas so hot it glows in X-rays. Motions of galaxies in and around clusters indicate that they contain more dark matter than any visible matter we can see. Pictured above, the heart of the Virgo Cluster includes bright Messier galaxies such as Markarian’s Eyes on the upper left, M86 just to the upper right of center, M84 on the far right, as well as spiral galaxy NGC 4388 at the bottom right.

A Christian worldview must somehow take into account the cosmos. I am tempted to think that only in this day of the Hubble telescope and it’s friends am I finally equipped to think seriously about God and historical beginnings. But that would be saying that the shepherd of ancient times, in the dark of night, contemplating the sky full of stars, could not know what he needed to know about God and beginnings. It doesn’t take much reflection to know that would be saying nonsense.

Today, the Astronomy Picture of the Day is just a part of the flood of information I am besieged with every hour of the day. I am trying to sip from a firehose. My shepherd on the hill had plenty of time to ponder his sky-view, and I suspect that his philosophical conclusions were of greater value to him than my fleeting thoughts while looking at the image above. What do you think?

Dave, blessed but not overawed by scientific progress.

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