>Sunrise, Sunset: Views from Space

>Viewing these incredible pictures from space has profoundly affected my concepts of time and reality.

The sun setting in the thin blue line of earth’s atmosphere.

My Facebook friend, E. Calvin Beisner, alerted me to the existence of these picture by posting a link to them in a recent status line. They were taken by NASA astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock during his recent command of the International Space Station and the Expedition 25 crew. During his stay at the station, he tweeted pictures and comments to his followers. If you go to this link, you can view all of the pictures and share in Astronaut Wheelock’s wonder at sights such as the above sunset and the Space Station reflected in the Earthshine from this blue sunrise.

Sunrise in earth’s razor thin atmosphere.

Astronaut Wheelock writes that the Space Station, traveling at 17,500 miles per hour (five miles per second) orbits Earth every 90 minutes with a sunrise or a sunset every 45 minutes. That’s 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day of Earth orbit.

This gives amazing perspective to those words from Genesis 1, “There was evening and there was morning, the first [second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth] day.” The fact that astronauts in the International Space Station view evening and morning every 90 minutes gives us an infinitesimal understanding of the nebulous nature of time. In ways far beyond what our finite minds can begin to grasp, God exists outside the constraints of time and space. As is so frequently the case, Psalm 90:4 comes to mind:

For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

We may toss in pain and turn feverish pillows, we may find no relief from overwhelming sorrow or insidious anxiety, but our long sleepless nights will end. The reality is that they will end sooner than we think.

Astronaut Wheelock writes about the blue line of Earth’s atmopshere, “That beautiful thin blue line is what makes our home so special in the cosmos. Space is cool…but, the Earth is a raging explosion of life in a vast sea of darkness.”

We tend to think of ourselves and our world as the center of the universe, if not as the only reality, but the truth is that each individual and even our entire world–teeming with life and beauty–are very small compared to the vastness of space.

And even what Astronaut Wheelock calls the “vast sea of darkness” that is the immensity of space cannot be compared to the vast sea of light that is God.

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love (Micah 7:18).

Our afflictions may seem too much to bear. We may feel as if God’s fierce anger burns against us in a consuming fire. But just as we can’t grasp the reality of existence outside time and space, we can’t grasp the reality of God’s delight in steadfast love.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness (Lamentation 2:22-23).


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