The Independent Newsweekly
|Earth & Spirit|
Issue Date: September 12, 2003
Web site is treasure chest of Gods imagination
By RICH HEFFERN
Many of us have been searching the skies at night lately, looking for the red planet Mars, at its closest proximity to Earth in 60,000 years. Back inside, a mouse click or two on the computer keyboard will bring you a gift from the Internet: a photo gallery, updated daily, with snapshots from our solar system and beyond.
Its the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) site at antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod -- type in that convoluted string and prepare to be flabbergasted when a breathtakingly spectacular color photo appears on your screen.
Every day the site is updated with a new image. Accompanying text explains what youre looking at in lay terms, key phrases hyperlinked to further elucidations. At the bottom of the screen is a link to the APOD archives, containing hundreds of past photos.
The APOD archive contains the largest collection of annotated astronomical images on the Internet. Its coordinated, written and edited by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell, professional astronomers who spend most of their time researching the universe.
Nemiroff is a professor at Michigan Technological University, while Bonnell works at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington.
Its a picture album of Gods astounding creation. Heres just a small sampling of its marvels and wonders.
Awesome and wondrous, these photos remind one of the Old Testament Book of Job, where Yahweh appears to the afflicted man; a voice out of a whirlwind queries him: Can you fasten the harness of the Pleiades, or untie Orions bands? Can you guide the morning star season by season? Whose skill tilts the flasks of heaven? Can lightning flashes come at your command and answer Here we are?
Job answers: I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear but now my eyes see you.
The APOD site is a celebration of the Wisdom that created all things, a treasure chest of images illustrating Gods fecund imagination and breathtaking creativity.
The Hasidic teacher Rabbi Bunam said that a spiritual seeker should carry two stones in a pocket. On one should be inscribed, I am but dust and ashes. On the other, For my sake was the world created. And the seeker should use each stone as needed.
The vastness and majesty of that created world is available and on display on the Internet every day.
Rich Heffern is a frequent contributor to NCR. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Catholic Reporter, September 12, 2003
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