The 10th Planet (actually 9th)

Once upon a time our attic served as the archive of a class project completed several years ago by one of my sons. It was of the solar system. Notice my use of the past tense. The planets were made of clay and evidently in the heat of the attic the clay went through a metamorphosis. The class project of a solar system started to look like somebody’s left over school lunch. One would think that Mercury, with its close proximity to the Sun, could have handled the heat of an attic better.

It appears that the school project of a solar system was out of date for other reasons. Now instead of nine planets, Pluto was booted off about a year ago, demoted to the status of a dwarf planet. Just before Pluto’s demotion scientists announced the discovery of another planet in our solar system. Instead of it having the cool name of a Greek or Roman god, they gave it the sterile moniker of 2003 UB313. Is it any wonder that astronomers don’t have a reputation as romantics? If I had the say-so I would call it something cool like Bocelli or Lasagna or Frappuccino.

There is some debate, however, as to whether or not 2003 UB313 (henceforth to be known as “Frappuccino”) is actually a planet. Even though “Frappucino” is larger than Pluto and made up of the same materials as Pluto, the scientific community is at a disagreement as to what actually qualifies as a planet. For right now “Frappuccino” will just be some big honking object out there in the solar system.

My degree is in theology not astronomy, but it doesn’t take an astronomer to appreciate the vastness and beauty of the universe. In more ancient days a poet reflected:

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens…
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

(Psalm 8:1;3-5)

Indeed, “how excellent is thy name.” When you take out the trash this week or retrieve the morning paper from the driveway, glance up with me to the dark sky and say a prayer of grace over this vast expanse of God’s handiwork. It is the stuff that has inspired poets, dreamers and all God’s children.

Grace be with you,


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