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“Hand of God”


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January 2014
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We have just celebrated Epiphany and the subject of stars and space has been on my mind.  Here is a story you might enjoy about them and God.


The “hand of God” nebula was discovered by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array or NuSTAR.  This device captures images of high-energy X-rays and other light that typical cameras do not detect.  


The telescope captured images of the nebula PSR B1509-58 which are the remains of a star that went supernova and is about 17,000 light years away.  The remains of the star spins about seven times a second releasing gases and other particles outward.


The image is interesting in that is shows a human hand.  One can make out the fingers, hand and even nails.  The reddish area where the fingertips touch is named RCW 89. Many in the scientific community are astounded at the details of this nebula while others dismiss it as pareidolia or apophenia which are psychological phenomenons where the human mind compensates by interpreting random patterns or stimuli into something it can recognize or had prior knowledge of.


In any event, the details of a human hand are too clear and precise so this image can be left up to interpretation. Hongjun An, of McGill University in Montreal had this to say: “We don’t know if the hand shape is an optical illusion.”  Obviously the image got his attention and he hasn’t dismissed it as pareidolia or apophenia. 


Artists are known to leave their “signature” or mark behind in a work of art.  Could this be God just having fun with creation by leaving the imprint of a hand?  Who knows…  This is why the Catholic Church has always been interested in astronomy and has its own observatory.  The stars remind us of God as creator.  Even before Christianity, religion and philosophy from all over the globe always looked up at the stars to contemplate gods or god.  



As Psalm 19:1-4 states:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun”



















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