The ancients who named Orion, the Pleiades, and Arcturus probably saw more stars in the night sky than we do. Our cities send up a fog of light that hides the fainter stars. But the brightest ones still shine through, and we still look up with wonder at the display of twinkling “diamonds in the sky.” The view from Earth has remained pretty much the same for millennia.
Now, however, we also have the Hubble Space Telescope above Earth’s hazy atmosphere sending us astonishing images of outer space. These dramatic views show us that what’s out there isn’t only shining points of light, but an infinite variety of galaxies, nebulae, supernovas, spirals, pulsars, and mysteries. They reveal dimensions, forms, and colors. There’s not a flat black ceiling with white diamonds anywhere.
Of course, astronomers had been telling us about this for a while, but actually seeing it has been a revelation—a whole different view of stars. And this radical change in viewpoint can also give us a vivid sense of what revelation itself is, what it’s like to get a completely new view of something even when it may seem very familiar and established in thought. A revelation like this isn’t just building onto or shoring up what we already know; it’s a fundamental change in our understanding. It has the practical effect of correcting mistaken calculations or uninformed decisions. And it opens new paths and possibilities.