By TIM LILLEY
JOURNEY OF FAITH
Here we are – just into October, the month of the Most Holy Rosary. Oct. 7 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. I hope you will join me in setting aside 15-20 minutes that day to pray the rosary for the intention(s) of your choice. Oct. 7 is a Wednesday this year, so we’ll pray the Glorious Mysteries.
How appropriate, given the glorious nature of our evening sky this time of year. I’m beginning to see a connection in all this.
Look into the history of the rosary, and you will learn that St. Dominic is credited with introducing the world to this lovely prayer devotion after receiving it from our Blessed Mother in a vision. Look into the life and legacy of St. Dominic, and you will see that he is the patron saint of astronomers and astronomy.
I found a historical look at the rosary on the Dynamic Catholic website (https://dynamiccatholic.com/rosary/history-of-the-rosary). That report contains the following: “Pope Paul VI said when we pray the rosary we can experience the key moments of the Gospel. It is a simple, beautiful, and focused meditation, especially when focusing on the mysteries of the rosary.”
Our night sky is now full of wonder. Jupiter and Saturn appear in the southern sky immediately after sunset. With binoculars, you should be able to see one or more of Jupiter’s four largest moons - Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. When they are aligned in such a way as to be visible around the planet, the view is astounding.
Just to the east of Jupiter is the smaller but still-bright Saturn. You will need more than binoculars to view its rings, but they are visible through backyard telescopes. That it’s possible to resolve them with a smallish telescope, given that Saturn is almost 883 million miles from us, amazes me.
Closer to overhead in the northern sky is the Andromeda Galaxy. I have written in this space before that, with only 8x binoculars, you can make out its elongated shape in the sky. Some astronomy sights will tell you it’s the most distant entity that is visible with the naked eye; I believe one will need far darker skies than we have here in Evansville for a naked-eye view.
Every time I raise my binoculars and find Andromeda, however, I am humbled by the knowledge that what appears to be a thumbnail-size smudgy oval is actually an elliptical galaxy with an estimated 400 billion stars that is 100,000 light-years in diameter. In other words, to cross it completely, you would have to travel at the speed of light for 100,000 years.
If you are an early riser, my favorite constellation – Orion the Hunter – greets you in the southeastern quadrant. Its cloudy nebula, which is located in the “sword” of the hunter’s “belt,” also is a wonderful sight through binoculars.
So, the saint through whom our Blessed Mother introduced us to the rosary also is the patron saint of those – like me – who truly enjoy staring wide-eyed at the God-given treasures of space.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, thank you for the rosary. St. Dominic, thank you for sharing it with us – and for your patronage of those who find gazing at the stars almost as simple, beautiful and focused a meditation as the rosary.