“Astronomers identify blue planet where it rains glass” (Scrolling subtitle on local television news 11 July 2013)
As far as headlines go, it was up there. Hinting at a distant celestial freak show maybe? As soon as I saw it tumbling across the screen with its offer of digital certainty I couldn’t help visualising a host of scenarios.
There had to be an investment opportunity in there somewhere. Imagine an ongoing source of high quality blue glass! Transport to market could be an issue though. What about a quality documentary on a planetary ecosystem based on silicon rather than oxygen. Has to be an earner. Maybe a hi-tech video blockbuster with all special effects and bells and whistles? Doctor Who could be brought back for a cameo appearance?
Then I started to wonder how the said astronomers had come to their conclusion (or whether they would have been pleased to have been represented in this way). I mean how many light years away is this glassy planet? Had they seen the rain showers for themselves, or was it possible someone had a rush of blood to the head during an extended lunch break and decided to be a bit creative?
Don’t get me wrong. I respect science, its techniques, and very often its conclusions. It’s just that I happen to know there is a rather large gap between careful observations of an inaccessibly distant object and sensational headlines that can arise from them.
From another perspective the headline did excite me rather a lot. Regardless of the reliability or otherwise of the conclusions the astronomers (or more likely some public relations person) had drawn, I was deeply convicted of one thing. This was that the universe in which we exist is undoubtedly complex, wonderful and strange. Its creator (I call him God) is more wonderful and inexplicable than I can ever hope to appreciate.
I thought for a few minutes and was moved to pray. I wanted to worship my creator. I wanted to ask forgiveness for so often overlooking his majesty and for assuming that I had the first idea of how and why he does what he does.
I am not the only one to have thought this way. King David of Israel penned these words 3000 years ago. They could have been written this morning:
Psalm 8:3-9 (NIV)
 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,  what is mankind that you are mindful of them,human beings that you care for them?  You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.  You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:  all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild,  the birds in the sky,and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  Lord, our Lord,how majestic is your name in all the earth!