Tomorrow, we will witness something rather rare and we all should make sure we see it because the next time it happens will be in the next century. Venus will pass directly between the sun and the earth and will block out a small part of the sun (1/32nd, I believe) as it does.
First a word of warning: don’t look directly at it. It might be fascinating and rare but it is also dangerous. So, either wear the special equipment designed for such an event or go to one of the many places where people will gather together to watch on tv or with a live feed from a telescope. (There are several such events scheduled for Ann Arbor.)
I love astronomical events. I watch (unsuccessfully) each year for meteor showers. I look forward to every lunar eclipse, the occasional solar eclipse and the other such occasions. Several years ago, when Mars’ orbit brought it closer to earth than it had been in centuries, I found it captivating.
I know that forecasting such events comes down to science and mathematics and I truly admire the ability of astronomers to pinpoint the event with such accuracy. I defer to their calculations and realize that there is no guesswork involved. Once you figure out the math, you know where Venus will be. End of discussion.
But, there is so much more to it than that.
For me, the predictability of the universe is one of the clearest expressions of Divine creation. The ability to recognize and appreciate the cycles of the stars and planets and to map them out with such precision is a testimony both to the stability of the world and the miracle of our ability to understand it. And for me, there is no greater proof of God’s existence and plan for creation.
My daughter, who is taking a high school astronomy class, asked me the other day whether I believe in the Big Bang Theory and I assured her I did. But, I also told her that I believed that God’s hands, as it were, were all over the Big Bang and that there need be no conflict between science and religion. In fact, I told her, I can see no better proof for the existence of God than the little black dot that will move across the sun tomorrow afternoon and our ability to predict it and, most importantly, to appreciate it.
I can’t wait for tomorrow afternoon. I can’t wait to see it (indirectly of course) and to say a bracha: Baruch atah…oseh ma’aseh biraysheet, Blessed are You O Lord our God who performs the acts of creation.