Starry, starry night

February 16, 2018


Do you like looking at the starry night sky? I am captivated by its beauty and seemingly unending dots of light when the surrounding area is not filled with man-made interference. 

Living in an inner city suburb of Melbourne, however, I do not get the opportunity to witness the brilliance of the night sky unhindered very often. On our recent holiday we were in country Victoria and decided to visit the Lake Boga Observatory one night to make the most of being in an ideal stargazing location. 

It was a bitterly cold night, but cloudless, and with eager anticipation we arrived and were ready to start looking through telescopes. Our host, John, insisted that before we did that we needed to sit and listen to a couple of presentations regarding different types of stars and planets and then look at what the night’s sky might reveal to us before we stepped anywhere near the high-powered telescopes outside. 

To be honest, we were a little disappointed that we were unable to start looking at stuff as soon as we arrived, and the detail we were given seemed quite monotonous and excessive. 

Finally the time came to venture out to the GPS-driven telescopes and we eagerly waited for the high-powered magnification to show us planets and constellations. First we looked at Mars, then Saturn and its rings, and then Jupiter. We also looked at a planetary cluster called the Jewel Box: Antares—the heart of the Scorpion, which is a star that is 883 times larger than our Sun (think a bowling ball versus a pea!) and into the heart of two other galaxies. 

There were 10 other people in attendance that night, and there was some downtime as we were anticipating our turn at the telescope’s eyepiece. While waiting, I noticed that I was staring at the night sky and was able to identify various random things that we had been told about prior to venturing outside. It dawned on me that the more boring, informative part of the evening had its purpose and as a result of listening to an expert my ability to appreciate the intricacies of what lay above me was increased many times over. Before, I may have looked at the ‘pretty stars’, but now I could identify what the different clusters were, and with the naked eye! 

I have been reflecting on the importance of listening to and learning from those with greater and deeper knowledge. 

Sometimes you are not aware of the value of what is being taught until the moment you can utilise that information. Many examples from my own life spring to mind, such as the wisdom of my parents, my schoolteachers, my church leaders and God, whose impact did not resonate at the time, but did much later when the need to apply my learning arose. 

I pray that each of us will continue to be open to hearing the expertise of worthy people in our lives. The increased value it adds to the moment is something I witnessed firsthand on that cold, dark night staring at the sky. 


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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Vol. 139, No. 14 // 11 April 2020

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