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OUR AMAZING SOLAR SYSTEM


Many people are familiar with diagrams of the solar system, complete with the sun and its eight planets (I still think Pluto should have been left as the ninth planet!), plus the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. In this high-tech age we are living in, diagrams like these can seem like just another excursion into academia. Certainly, these diagrams do not communicate the intricacies behind the solar system’s functioning which make it so remarkable.


Let’s start with the sun. It is a remarkable star. While usually relegated by scientists to the status of yellow dwarf—our home star actually appears white in space—the sun is estimated to be brighter than about 85% of the stars in our galaxy. It is a mighty star indeed! The Bible has something to say about it:


Psalm 19:1, 4-6:  The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork…Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The sun produces sufficient heat and light to support life on earth, not too much and not too little. Also, astronomers have found that it is a remarkably stable and well-behaved star. Even in stars that are like the sun in their temperature and brightness, the vast majority of them show a significantly greater amount of activity on their surfaces than our home star does.

  

With special instruments, spots, flares, and other activity which occur on the sun have been found to occur on other stars also, and even on sunlike stars their activity would be too intense for life to survive long on earth. Although solar storms can cause issues with communications and the power grid, our oceans are not going to be boiled by massive flares like they could be from one of these other stars. There is a time coming, however, when the sun will temporarily become dangerously energized, but it will be during the Great Tribulation and will be an act of God’s judgment:

 
 
Revelation 16:8-9:  Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.

 
 
And how about the moon? It is unusually large in relation to the planet it is orbiting, enough so that the earth and the moon are a double planet system. The earth’s equatorial diameter is 7,918 miles; the moon’s, 2,159 miles (contrast that to the sun’s equatorial diameter of about 865,000 miles). The moon is 400 times closer to the earth than the sun is, and also 400 times smaller than the sun, which means the sun and the moon appear to be the same size in our sky. This also allows for the occurrence of solar eclipses. The moon’s orbit and orientation to earth even allow it to follow the same path through the sky that the sun does!
 
 
Wherever the sun is in the sky in a given season, the full moon will be in the opposite place in the sky at night. For example, in winter the sun is low in the sky. During the winter the full moon will be high in the sky—in the same area that the sun will be in the summer.

 
 
And how about the Harvest Moon and the Hunter’s Moon? The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumn equinox, the Hunter’s Moon being the next full moon afterwards. Normally the moon rises about 50 minutes later each night. The Hunter’s Moon rises only about 20 to 25 minutes later each night for a few nights in succession. This gave farmers in the pre-electric-light era extra light to harvest their crops by. A similar but less marked phenomenon occurs with the Hunter’s Moon.

To make it even more remarkable still, the Harvest Moon occurs near the autumn equinox in each hemisphere—September in the northern hemisphere and March in the southern hemisphere. While the moon is rising 20 to 25 minutes later each night in one hemisphere, it is rising more than 50 minutes later each night in the other one when this phenomenon occurs! There is no doubt that God put all this in motion:

 
 
Genesis 1:14-16:  Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.  He made the stars also.

 
 
Also, along with the sun, the moon in particular influences the tides in the oceans and other large bodies of water here on the earth. Its gravitational pull helps keep the earth from being tilted too far by the pull from the sun and from Jupiter. Our large moon attracts and takes hits from many meteors which would otherwise impact the earth.

 
 

What about the rest of the solar system? Both Venus and Mars are in the sun’s habitable zone. However, Venus is a hellish inferno with a poisonous atmosphere 90 times denser than the earth’s, where the clouds are made of sulfuric acid droplets and the average surface temperature is 867 degrees Fahrenheit. Mars has an extremely thin atmosphere made mostly of carbon dioxide. In the summer it can reach over 90 degrees (above zero) Fahrenheit there, but the average temperature is more than 80 degrees below zero and at night in winter the temperature can plunge to more than 225 degrees below zero.


Mercury is a nearly airless, heavily cratered world, the closest to the sun and almost 900 miles larger in diameter than the moon. All this makes the earth quite a special place.
 
 
The four planets beyond the asteroid belt are all much larger than the inner ones, particularly Jupiter and Saturn, with dense, cloudy, frigid atmospheres. 



Scientists have found that the gravitational influences of Jupiter and Saturn stabilize the earth’s orbit. Our orbit around the sun is almost circular. Without these influences it would be much more eccentric, causing climatic extremes which would make our world uninhabitable.

 
 
Jupiter’s great gravity attracts meteoric material that might otherwise come hurtling towards the earth with potentially devastating results. Also, with today’s advanced scientific instruments, scientists have detected planetary systems around many other stars, but none of them seems to be structured anything like ours. Again, the hand of the Creator can be seen when one contemplates this. But as interesting as all this is, the wonder doesn’t end here. Even the placement of our solar system within the galaxy is remarkable.

 
 
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a spiral-shaped galaxy, a very large one at about 100,000 light-years in diameter. The center and the arms of spiral galaxies, including ours, contain excessive radiation from the multitudes of stars so close together, making life in these regions impossible. In such dense areas stars occasionally collide. Massive stars explode into supernovae, which flood the areas around them with dangerous radiation for light-years in all directions.

 
 
Our solar system is located about two-thirds of the way out toward the galaxy’s edge, near the edge of a small spiral arm or spur. In this area the stellar density is much less, virtually eliminating the chance of our sun colliding with another star, and the radiation levels are correspondingly lower, making the environment considerably safer for the earth. Indeed, our solar system is amazing. God put everything in it where it was supposed to go, all for the benefit of life on earth, and He did likewise in the placement of the earth within our solar system and the solar system within our galaxy. All this did not just happen. All this did not just evolve. God created it all. Glory be to God, Hallelujah!

 
 
Genesis 1:1:  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 
 
 
 
 

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