Thursday, February 02, 2012

Looking Up!

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

And they do! Not just the night sky, but the day sky too. As I shared on the TOS Homeschool Crew blog, it was not too long ago that I had a lovely conversation with the author of Classical Astronomy's monthly Celestial Almanack, Jay Ryan. He mentioned something I found really powerful--something I too easily forget.

The Moon that is referred to in 62 verses of Scripture and the Sun that is mentioned 183 times are the SAME Sun and Moon that we see everyday. The Bible also mentions trees and animals and people, but the original ones made in the creation week are long dead. Meanwhile, the SAME Sun, Moon and stars are STILL THERE, pristine artifacts of God's original creative work. 

How often do I really consider the work of God in the sky? Jay Ryan's monthly Celestial Almanack can now help our family consider it every day of the year! 

Sometimes people go silent when a person starts talking astronomy. The crickets start chirping and we feel uncomfortable with our lack of knowledge. We don't have to! How often have you been out on a clear starlit night and thought to yourself, I wish I understood what is up there. I wish I could identify what I see and that it wasn't just a jumbled mess of tiny lights to me.

This monthly Almanack opens up the doors and shares the great mystery with you. February's Almanack is a 21-page e-book downloadable from CurrClick so it is instant knowledge of the northern sky available for you. On page four we find the whole monthly moon cycle and inside it he sprinkles tidbits of knowledge of significant events that happened over time. He even gives you a link to find your local rise and set times for the Sun and Moon. 

On the next page, he shows you the whole sun cycle through the month of February and explains what we are seeing during the days of winter. Next we learn about constellations. This is the one thing that I have really yearned to understand and he really makes it so easy! Will your family take the Orion Challenge? 

Probably the most exciting thing in the night sky is what is happening to the planets Venus and Jupiter. They are coming together in the sky in what is called a conjunction that will culminate in March, but we get to watch it happen all February. 

Through his beautifully drawn yet simple to grasp artwork in the Almanack, we get to see things from a "God's eye" perspective. This is so helpful to really understand what we see in the sky. "When we look up and seen Venus and Jupiter in the sky, we are actually looking out into space, onto the plane of the solar system." This was demonstrated so we could "see" in the drawings. 

Last week we were able to visit a local planetarium at a junior college near us. The lecturer was an astronomy professor and he really knew his stuff. What impressed me was that due to studying through Jay Ryan's book, Signs and Seasons, from Fourth Day Press, and now as we begin using these monthly Almanacks, my children not only understood what was being presented, but they could also answer the questions he asked them! What is more, they were genuinely interested and we spoke at length afterwards about it. Then, that very night, we went to my aunt's home on the river where hardly any ambient light is, and they could see the whole of the sky! It was astonishing and exciting. 

There is nothing like it! I can now look into the sky and understand some of what I see, see the hand of God in all of it, and marvel at His glorious achievement.

I know as homeschoolers, we sometimes feel we must stick to the regimen of the science topics per grade level that we think are somehow "assigned" to those grades. Studying Classical Astronomy, the astronomy that the ancients knew so well, hearkens back to a simpler time where people used the sky every day to tell the time, to tell direction, to understand the signs in the heavens as they lived and worked their land. There is something very powerful about looking at the moon and understanding that it is the same moon that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saw; it was the same moon Jesus saw as He walked this earth for us. It links us all together through time. 

The upcoming months of the Almanack will focus on the Jupiter-Venus conjunction on March 15 (this happens only once every 24 years); the annular solar eclipse on May 20 (this happens only once every 18 years); and the transit of Venus on June 5 (this is the last one until 2117).

I cannot encourage you enough to take a look at this wonderful work. Jay Ryan has made something unequaled in the homeschooling world and our family is the better for having had the privilege of using it.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 
Psalm 8:3-4

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own. 


Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

I have really enjoyed this book - we printed ours and have enjoyed reading it as a family. We are under a high pressure ridge right now, so we should have clear skys for a while. I'm looking forward to seeing the moon tonight at 9 and sketching where it is to match up the sun on June 21st! Great information and tools for sure!

Kate said...

Angie, I hope you are able to enjoy it! As you can tell, we absolutely love looking up. :D