The New Horizons mission would forever change the way we think about this little world. But in the same year that New Horizons was launched, the International Astronomical Union voted to reclassify Pluto as a dwarf planet. What exactly prompted this demotion of Pluto?
When Pluto was discovered in 1930, it was immediately accepted as the ninth planet. Seventy-six years later, the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto should no longer be considered a planet, and reclassified it as a “dwarf planet.” What motivated this reclassification? And how exactly is a planet defined? Regardless of how we choose to classify it, Pluto is a wonderful creation and one that does not fit the secular narrative. The discovery and early investigation of this dwarf planet is a fascinating part of history.
The outermost planet of our solar system is a world of wonder and mystery. Neptune is a virtual twin to Uranus, similar in size and color. But its differences are fascinating and challenge secular thinking.
The ancient world knew of planets – the five wandering stars that moved with respect to the background stars. The invention of the telescope allowed Galileo to discover that Jupiter had moons – proving that not everything orbits Earth. This led to the...
Saturn has 82 known moons – more than any other planet at the publication time of this article. Of these, twenty were discovered in the last year. Most are just a few miles across. But the larger ones are some of the most fascinating moons of the solar system.
Known for its stunning system of rings, Saturn is truly a gem of the solar system. Although Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune also have rings, only Saturn’s are easily visible from Earth and are an icon of astronomy. Yet these rings were unknown until the 1600s. For the first five and a half millennia, Saturn was simply the slowest of the five “wandering stars.” The invention of the telescope in 1608 paved the way for more advanced telescopes, eventually allowing astronomers to see Saturn in all its splendor.
Someone recently sent me an internet post of a critic who thinks he has disproved the ASC solution to the distant starlight issue. Peter offered thirteen propositions in an attempt to support his conclusion. Amazingly, not even one of them is correct. We will examine his errors here. Actually, if Peter has posed his claims as questions instead, they would have been good questions. So, hopefully my response here will help people get up to speed on this fascinating area of physics.
Galileo’s most remarkable discovery happened when he pointed his telescope at the planet Jupiter. He found that Jupiter had moons! No one had conceived of the possibility that other planets could have moons that orbit the planet, just as Earth’s moon orbits Earth.
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system – over ten times the size of Earth in diameter. Like the sun, it is an enormous ball of hydrogen and helium gas with smaller amounts of other elements held together by its own gravity. Although hydrogen and helium are the two lightest elements, Jupiter has so much of them that its mass is greater than the rest of the planets combined, and yet is only 0.1% the mass of the sun. The pressure of the gases increases as we dive deeper into Jupiter, and at some point, they are forced into a liquid state. But Jupiter has no solid surface.
“At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.” So begins the H.G Wells classic science fiction novel War of the Worlds in which technologically advanced Martians invade the Earth. More than any other planet, Mars has captured the imagination of science fiction enthusiasts. Why is this?
“The Earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1). It’s not the largest planet, nor the brightest. It is one planet among billions, perhaps even billions of billions. But the Earth is uniquely designed for life (Isaiah 45:18). This makes it quite different from any other known world. And while it may not be the center of the physical universe, the Earth is certainly central to God’s plan of redemption.
The second planet from the sun is another example of the Lord’s creativity and resists secular origins scenarios. Venus appears as a bright and stunningly beautiful star in Earth’s sky. For this reason, it was named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Being nearly the size of Earth, and the closest planet to Earth, Venus has been the subject of many stories – especially in science fiction. The second book of C.S. Lewis’s excellent space trilogy takes place on Venus. In reality, Venus turns out to be far more interesting than any science fiction writer could have imagined.
Mercury is a little planet with big implications. Appearing much like Earth’s moon, this small world is barren, cratered, rocky, and lifeless. It is a world of extremes, with temperatures on the day side reaching 800 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures on the night side dropping to 280 degrees below zero. The smallest of the eight classical planets, Mercury frustrates secular thinking, but confirms the creativity of the Lord.
The sun is a creation of God to give light upon the Earth and to govern the day and separate light from dark. And the sun does exactly these things. It illuminates the Earth and governs the day by determining its boundary; if the sun is above the horizon, it is day, otherwise it is night. But the way in which the sun fulfills its God-ordained role is fascinating, and altogether unexpected.
The solar system is a delightful example of the creativity of the Lord. It is beautiful and interesting, and a wonderful example of how the Lord hides fascinating truths in nature for us to discover over time. We know so much about the solar system today, and it is far different and more interesting than our ancestors could have ever imagined.