Did you know that our Galaxy, the Milky Way, has over 100 thousand million stars? (Not a typo…that’s a big number) And did you know that our Universe contains roughly 200 billion Galaxies? I can’t even begin to comprehend the vastness of all these facts and figures. But needless to say, I’m amazed.
On Christmas Day, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s successor to the famous Hubble telescope, launched into space. It’s mission, to study the earliest stars and peer back farther into the universe’s past than ever before. With greatly improved infrared resolution and sensitivity, it will be able to view objects too old and distant for Hubble.
Development began in 1996 with a planned launch in 2007 and a budget of $500 million. As is seemingly customary for government projects, many delays and cost overruns pushed back the launch for several years. By the time all was said and done, the project cost $10 billion and finally launched in late 2021.
Named for the second appointed administrator of NASA, James Webb led the organization from 1961 to 1968. After receiving several governmental leadership accolades, Webb died from a heart attack in 1992 at the age of 85.
The Webb Telescope is estimated to be 100 times more powerful than its predecessor the Hubble telescope, which has been in operation for an amazing 31 years! The Webb Telescope is expected to make several powerful discoveries, including how stars and planets are formed, what are blackholes and how are they formed, and detecting if there is another planet like Earth out there.
I grew up on a farm outside of a small town in Ohio. The thing about living in the country, there’s direct access to the sky. No light pollution from city living. I remember laying my back in the grass on warm summer evenings and gazing up at the expanse of God’s creation. It filled me with awe and wonder.
It also…made me feel small.
Then, I’d come in from my play, and my mom was there, rushing over to give me a hug. My sister was there, asking me to come play. My dad was there, inviting me over to watch the big game with him. And in those moments, I regained my confidence. I felt…
It’s a big world out there. The Universe, larger than our comprehension. It’s easy to feel insignificant in the face of it all. But, rest assured, you matter. You were placed on the surface of the Earth for a reason. There may be 100 thousand million stars, but there’s only 1 you.
The world needs you. We need you. With you, humanity survives…even thrives. Without you, a piece of the puzzle is missing.
Feel at peace.
Put one foot in front of the other. Do it again. Make progress. Not perfect, but forward.
Look up. See the stars. Know that the One who created them, created you.
And live on purpose today.