About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Counting stars

Calibration lasers of the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea
God famously promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15). Of course it was a metaphor because stars were proverbially innumerable. But are they really? It all depends how you count and what instrument you use.
    Abraham had the great benefit of dark nights unpolluted with our modern electrical lights, but on the other hand, he had only his naked eyes. How many stars can an eye observe?
    Astronomers came up with the answer. Under ideal conditions in a moonless, deep dark night without any light pollution a sharp healthy human eye can observe stars down to 6.5 magnitude and such celestial objects can be counted. If we subtract the Sun and the Moon and all the planets, we end up with 9,096 stars across the entire sky. With a wide open horizon you can see about 4,548 stars and if you add few planets we end up with 4,550 or so stars - and thus also descendants promised to Abraham.
    Interestingly, such a number is not far off from what archeology tells us about population in ancient Judea. The Early Iron Age settlement in Jerusalem, a period to which the Bible positions David and Salomon, was about one or maximum two thousand people. Judean highlands had perhaps a few more thousand. Only the Judean Plain by the Mediterranean Sea was slightly more populous.
    The entire Judean kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital could have a population of 10-12 thousand. It was truly a small, pocket size, provincial kingdom and counting descendants like stars with a naked eye might not be far off. And that is something you might not know about the Bible.

Join us this Sunday as we continue our Celestial theology observing, counting and rejoicing in stars.

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