The exquisite star Sirius is the premier gem of our sparkling winter skies [that’s it at the top-right of the photo]. Its name means “the Sparkling or Scorching One,” although it is commonly called the Dog Star because of its location in the constellation of Canis Major, the Big Dog. Sirius is the brightest star visible from Earth (except, of course, for the Sun). This is due in part to its “nearby” location. Sirius is a mere 8.6 light years distant from the solar system. That’s the distance a light beam would travel in 8.6 years at the speed of 186,282 miles per second–about 50 trillion miles! Through careful study, astronomers have concluded that Sirius is about twice as massive as the Sun but about twenty-five times more luminous. This makes it a whopping 660,000 times more massive than Earth! It has a tiny companion star, no larger than Earth, called the “Pup,” which is a white dwarf star. More than a hundred times smaller than the Sun, it has nearly the same mass, making it extraordinarily dense. A single teaspoon of its material would weight more than fifteen hundred tons!
Psalm 19 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. Take any spot in the sky, and see that this is so. Whether we gaze upon stars, planets, galaxies, or nebulae, day after day and night after night they speak in loud, eloquent tongues of His power, knowledge, beauty, and glory. The Psalm says: “There is no speech, nor are there words”–what words could ever adequately describe His glory? “Yet their voice goes out through all the earth”–and results in the echoes of praise from men and women, great and small, old and young, from every nation, on every continent, in every age. Indeed, the starry heavens are declaring at this very moment that our God is magnificent beyond comprehension. Listen to them! Hear how their endless hosts strive day after day and night after night to declare the least part, the smallest measure, of His glory. It is never enough; it never will be; it never can be. He is infinite. Have you heard their voices? Have you joined their chorus?
Excerpted from The Heavens: Intimate Moments With Your Majestic God, a devotional by Kevin Hartnett. Hartnett is NASA’s Deputy Science Operations Manager for the Hubble Space Telescope. (photo credit)