The Starry Heavens Continued

Table of Data for Planets of Our Solar System

Name of PlanetMass Earth=1.0 Diameter (km) Density (compared to water) Distance from Sun (km) Rotation Period Number of Satellites Eccentricity (Ovalness) of Orbit (Circle=0.0)
Mercury0.055 4,878 5.44 57,900,000 58.646 days 0 0.2056
Venus0.814 12,100 5.25 108,200,000 243 days 0 0.007
Earth 1.00012,756 5.52 149,600,000 1.000 day 1 0.0167
Mars0.107 6,794 3.9 228,000,000 1.026 days 2 0.093
Asteroid Belt  Up to 1,000  Between 300,000,000 and 600,000,000   
Vesta (Asteroid) 530 350,000,000   
Ceres (Asteroid) ~950 411,000,000   
Jupiter318 142,982 1.32 778,000,000 0.413 days 16 0.048
Saturn95.0 120,540 0.69 1,427,000,000 0.44 days 18 0.056
Uranus14.5 51,120 1.3 2,871,000,000 17.24 hours 17 0.047
Neptune17.1 49,532 1.64 4,500,000,000 16hr, 7min 8 0.0086
Pluto0.002 2,274 1.25 5,910,000,000 6.387 days 1 0.2482
Tenth Planet  About 3,000 10,050,000,000 1
Kuiper Belt  Up to at least 3,000

Data in table mostly from The Encyclopedia of Space Exploration by Joseph Angelo and published by Checkmark Books

Probable Mention of Stars and Planets in the Bible and Comparison to Human Bodies from 1 Corinthians 15

After God through the apostle Paul finishes using the different types of larger life and their bodies as an analogy to our bodies he uses a second more profound example. This is the types of astronomical bodies. At that time in the 1st century AD most people thought all the astronomical bodies were stars and very far away. The one main exception to this as far as I know were some of the Greeks who thought some of the astronomical bodies especially the "wandering stars" that were actually the brightest planets of our solar system were other worlds at least somewhat like our earth. It is significant that this scripture was first directed to some of the Greeks in Corinth although with God's revelation. God through the apostle Paul says there are celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies. He must have been thinking of some of the wandering stars as planets or else where would the other examples of terrestrial bodies be since this is in the plural? The apostle Paul by divine revelation calls the stars celestial bodies and the planets which would include rocky bodies like our moon terrestrial bodies. It is also mentioned that each star differs from another in glory. This could include their different colours and brightnesses that to some extent are visible even to the naked eye in clear skys that the people of that day would have. The different glory of the stars could include the different glory of the planets - the wandering stars which would be terrestrial bodies as well as of the fixed stars which are true stars or celestial bodies. God under divine revelation then compares these bodies especially of believers to the astronomical bodies with our present natural bodies compared to terrestrial bodies and our resurrection or spiritual bodies to celestial bodies. This would be appropriate since there are scriptures such as in Daniel 12:1-2 where God says the resurrection bodies of believers will be radiant like stars or celestial bodies. The scripture reference from 1 Corinthians 15 of the comparison between terrestrial bodies and our natural human bodies and celestial bodies and our spiritual resurrection bodies is as follows:

Scripture Reference from 1 Corinthians 15 of Analogy of Astronomical Bodies to Human Earthly and Resurrection Bodies

There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial in another. There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 1 Corinthians 15:40-43

Progress Toward Discovering Earth Like Extrasolar Planets and Possible Reason for Lack of Due Media and Public Interest or Attention

Unfortunately one of the main casualties of loss of interest after the terrorist incidents of September 11, 2001 has been public and media interest in more noble or pure science and technology and in space exploration and astronomy in particular. This is because after 9/11 and the War of Terrorism the media and public as a whole in the west and probably to some extent in the whole world have become much more focused on earthly events. Unfortunately this has resulted the widespread ignoring and underappreciation of signicant developments in a new, exciting and possible very profound area of astronomy one could call extra solar planetary astronomy. Up to 1992 or to 1995 more fully, although there were some tentative candidates for planets of other stars there was little proof to support any of the claims or even of the proposition that there were any planets around other stars at all. For different reasons including some well meaning Christians or other religious people saying on theological grounds that God wouldn't create any planets beyond our solar system because he wanted earth or our solar system to be unique. Although I am a Bible believing Christian and have been since 1980 and had that idea in the back of my mind that is the last thing I hoped for or wanted to believe. I was very relieved that in 1995 found the first normal planets around another star and have since found almost 200 planets around over 100 other stars. Of course many people from what I have said to this point in this paragraph, especially if you have kept up on this subject, know where I am leading here. Although as a Bible believing Christian because of the theological problems such as that they also could fall into sin and it would be very difficult for the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God to go and Incarnate Himself and die for other races or for human beings on earth to go to other planets to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them I don't think there is intelligent life on other planets. This excludes angels and demons that I think could roam throughout the celestial heavens. However I think there could very well be plant or animal life on other planets and certainly bacterial life. The latter we still haven't ruled out on Mars or other places in our own solar system. For earthlike large scale life such as animals, plants or humans the planet should have a similiar mass as earth from about 0.4 to 2.5 earth masses. By contrast Venus in our solar system has about 0.8 earth masses and Mars has about 0.1 earth masses. Venus passes this first test but unfortunately fails in its distance from the sun and temperature being too close to the sun but not by much.

Recent Discovery of Some Near Earthlike Extrasolar Planets

The distance around a parent star where earthlike life could develop is called its habitable zone and depends on the luminosity of the parent star or stars if the planet is in a binary or multiple star systems but these often provide a more unstable environment for life to develop on any orbiting planets because of the irregular orbits in these multiple systems. For example, closer planets in a binary star system would naturally follow "figure 8" orbits which would sometimes take them between the two stars. Of course this would result in great variations in the amount of light and radiation any such planets would receive and have severe impact on the planet(s)' climate and any existing or possible life there. Planets orbiting close to triple or even more complicated multiple star systems could have even more chaotic and hostile orbits. Astronomers are well aware of this and they have concentrated their search for extrasolar planets around single star systems although they have still found some planets around double or multiple star systems. The region of the habitable zone for the sun or identical stars to the sun is about 0.7 to 1.3 times the distance from the earth to the sun (Astronomical Unit (A.U.)). However the actual region of the habitable zone around any given star will vary from star to star especially on the parent star's luminosity. Up to recently there were two planets that were especially interesting especially from an earthlike mass consideration. One is about 6 to 7.5 earth masses around the star Gliese 876 and is only about 15 light years from earth but unfortunately is much too close to its parent star and would be too hot to support any life although it probably has a solid service or is a terrestrial planet. More recently a planet was found far away around the star OGLE-05-390L about 20,000 light years towards the centre of the Milky Way with about 5.5 earth masses but it is too far from its rather dim parent star to support life. Just yesterday, May 18 2006, a new planetary system was announced that is composed of three planets with about the same mass as the planet Neptune in our solar system. Neptune has about 17 earth masses. The outer planet of this new planetary system has a mass of about 18 earth masses HD 69830d and probably exists in the habitable zone around its parent star (HD 69830). Up to now the only planets found in habitable zones around their parent stars has masses comparable to Jupiter in our solar system which has about 300 earth masses and would be gas giants with atmospheres 10s of thousands of miles or kilometers thick. This new planet would still have an atmosphere too thick to support life but is much closer to a moderate enough extent of atmosphere to support life as we know it on earth. Although some of the news media reported this new discovery I personally think that due to the war on terrorism and other excessively earthbound focus in the news media and the public at large the significance of this recent discovery and the possibility it is pointing the way to a discovery fairly soon of a more earth mass and earth like planet in a habitable zone has been undervalued or not apprehended. This star and planet are at a distance of about 40 light years which is relatively nearby by astronomical standards. A light year is about 6 trillion miles or about 10 trillion kilometres. Although we might not have the technology to currently detect planets in the range of 0.4 to 2.5 earth masses, simpler life could still probably exist on planets in the range of 5 earth masses although the gravity would be quite oppressive compared to earth. Except in the rare cases where the planets transit or go across their parent star as seen from earth, we will have to wait until Nasa or other space agencies can put series of telescopes in space to be able to directly see these planets and perhaps some basic land features such as oceans or continents or polar caps or extensive forests or clouds and by spectroscopy with the parent star shining through the edge of the possible planet's atmosphere the constituent gases such as possible life sustaining ones like carbon dioxide, water vapour, molecular oxygen or perhaps methane. However chlorine, silicon and sulfur could also have a part in more exotic types of life. Finally the ovalness or eccentricity of orbits needs to be taken into account. One reason earth can support life and even civilization is because the earth has a relatively circular or low eccentricity orbit with minimal extremes of sunlight or temperature.

Implications of Possible Discovery of Earthlike Extrasolar Planet(s)

Even if an earth like planet would be found 40 or 50 light years or so from earth in a star's habitable zone I think or hope this would catch the attention and dreams of a sizable portion of the public, media and organizations of earth especially if it is shown that it had any evidence of life or life sustaining chemicals in its atmosphere. Although we don't have existing technology to visit such a planet, having a definite life supporting environment with possibly completely different life such as not based on DNA or even on carbon could be appealing enough on scientific as well as philosophical and religious grounds to substantiate an effort to develop a rocket either manned or unmanned that could reach that planet or at least orbit it and perhaps return to earth or at least return images and information at close range. Nuclear fission rockets could be built now and reach such a planet and nuclear fusion rockets could probably be built fairly soon. Such rockets would probably take a couple hundred years to travel 40 or 50 light years and several generations of humans but the payback would be immeasurable. However from a Bible believing Christian viewpoint this would be unlikely to reach this other planet until well into the time of the Messianic Kingdom even if such a rocket is built and launched before Jesus' second coming and the end of this world order. For a complete list of extrasolar planets see the lists in the links at the bottom of this web page.

The Heaven of Heavens Identified With the Second or Celestial Heavens in Nehemiah 9

Although in verse 6 of this chapter Nehemiah doesn't specifically mention the sun, moon or planets, he is clearly talking about God's physical creation as he mentions the earth and the things in it and the seas and things in it. This likely means the host of heaven mentioned in this verse is not as is sometimes used in the Bible the angels but the stars and celestial objects. The heaven of heavens mentioned as that which contains the host of heaven means the heaven of heavens is the 2nd or celestial heavens where the stars, planets and galaxies are rather than the third heaven where God dwells and which I used to think the phrase the heaven of heavens meant. The host of heavens worshipping God probably means in this context that the astronomical objects instill wonder, praise and awe towards God and His creation as they did with me and led me to look for the Creator behind the creation and they continue to do. The scripture reference in Nehemiah 9 of the phrase heaven of heavens referring to the astronomical heavens is as follows:

Scripture Reference From Nehemiah 9 of the Astronomical Heavens Identified With the Heaven of Heavens

Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. Nehemiah 9:6

King Solomon Mentions That the Heaven of Heavens Can't Contain God in 1 Kings 8

In 1 Kings 8, King Solomon gives his prayer of dedication of the 1st temple or house of the LORD. In this dedication in verse 27 he expresses some humility that although the temple he built for the LORD was very glorious and ornate God was far greater than this temple and it could by no means contain Him. Solomon then goes on to say even the heaven of heavens can't contain the Creator God. I used to think this included the 3rd heaven or spiritual or divine heaven but now based on the use of the same expression in Nehemiah 9 I think this expression is associated mostly with the 2nd or astronomical heavens. Even though we now know much more than did King Solomon the vastness or the celestial heavens we still think they are finite in extent which would still be a limitation to an infinite God who is before and beyond his creation including the universe. The scripture verse in 1 Kings 8 of the LORD God being beyond the celestial heavens is as follows:

Scripture Refererence from 1 Kings 8 of King Solomon Mentioning the LORD God is Beyond At Least the Astronomical Heavens or Heaven of Heavens

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? 1 Kings 8:27

The Heavens Called Not Clean in God's Sight As a Sign of the Curse from Job 15

In Job 15 which is part of the earliest complete book of the Bible from 1500 to 2500 BC there is the statement the heavens are not clean in his sight. This is probably a revelation of how God sees the heavens. This is probably to one or both of two basic reasons. One is the possibility that not just the earth but the whole universe or heavens were curses or made subject to decay due to the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. The other reason is that the sin of the angels led by Satan or Lucifer that rebelled against God caused the heavens to be cursed or made not clean in God's sight. The probably continued presence and activity of the demons and Satan in the heavens as the host of heaven could continue to make the heavens not clean in God's sight. It is possible that these demons will be all withdrawn from the heavens at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when they will all be bound in the bottomless pit with Satan. It is difficult to say how this would affect the impressions that astronauts have had when they go into space or the lowest part of the second heavens although the Apollo astronauts who went to the moon probably had a fuller experience of what humans would encounter in farther parts of the universe. The scripture reference from Job 15 of the heavens not being clean in God's sight is the following:

Scripture Reference from Job 15 of the Heavens Said to Be Not Clean in God's Sight as the Effect of the Curse

Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. Job 15:15

The Stars Said to Be Not Clean in God's Sight As a Sign of the Curse from Job 25

In a similiar way to Job 15, in Job 25 the stars are said to be not clean in God's sight. This is probably also due to either the curse on nature through Adam and Eve or due to the earlier curse due to the angelic rebellion of about 1/3 of the angels led by Satan or Lucifer. Again this will be at least partly removed when the demons or fallen angels are bound in the bottomless pit with Satan or Lucifer at Jesus' second coming at the end of the tribulation and throughout the 1000 year Messianic Kingdom. The scripture reference from Job 25 of this reference of the stars not being clean in God's sight is as follows:

Scripture Reference from Job 25 of the Stars Not Being Clean in God's Sight as a Result of the Curse

Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. Job 25:5

God Promises in 2 Peter 3 a New Heavens and a New Earth That Dwelleth Righteousness for Eternity to Make a Universe Free of the Curse

The apostle Peter says here under divine inspiration that the believer can look forward to a new heavens and a new earth in which dwells righteousness. This does not say that the new heavens and the new earth will be righteous although that will definitely be true to some extent at least compared to the current heavens and earth. However what this verse especially says that God will make a new heavens and earth in which dwells righteousness. I believe this is a reference to the new heavens and new earth as the place in which God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the holy angels and believers in God and the Lord Jesus Christ will dwell as persons who are righteous and free of the curse then. The scripture passage of the new heavens in which dwells righteousness as a contrast to the current heavens that are not pure in God's sight is as follows:

Scripture Reference from 2 Peter 3 of God Creating for Eternity a New Heavens and New Earth in Which Dwells Righteousness as Due to Righteous Persons Then Dwelling There

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13

For more information, questions, comments or advice contact Doug at Contact Spirit and Truth Ministries
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