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Village Smith 1/29

by Pat Smith on January 29, 2021


Just before coming to Knox I served a congregation in Muncie, Indiana. I’ve shared before that this church campus is bordered on two sides by the campus of Ball State University. (Some visitors have assumed the university has a beautiful chapel as part of its campus—close, so close!) Just a short walk from the church facility is one of the top university planetariums in the country. Going to shows there always taught me something new.  

This week’s news brought an announcement about a mind-blowing discovery of a solar system some 1,900 light years from Earth. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) picked up on an ebb and flow of light that indicated something unusual. Now memorably labeled TIC 168789840, it is a system of, get this, six stars. That’s really rare. This one is actually absolutely unique, because these stars pass in front of and behind each other, eclipsing one another. This has never been seen before. Never. 

Remember the fictional Star Wars planet Tatooine? From its surface, residents see two suns. TIC 168789840 has three times that number, each one moving among the others. “The system exists against the odds,” said Brian Powell, a data scientist at NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center in Greenbelt, Md. “I’d love to just be in a spaceship, park next to this thing and see it in person.” I would, too. How about you?

19th-20th Century French author and 1947 Nobel prize winner in literature Andre Gide writes, “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” I wonder how easy it has been, or will be, for us to let go of the familiar in our lives in order to position ourselves for the new, the important, the vital that isn’t even on our horizons yet. Discovery always come in a moment and place of the new. That’s what makes it a discovery, after all. The only way to get there is to let go. Can we? Will we? 

Standing with you as a fellow traveler in these days,


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