The bulk of this post was written originally for our parish magazine but as star-gazing is one of my topics I have included it here.

Despite what the nursery rhyme says, there are some people who think they do know what a star is and what it is made from. By comparing the light that shines from a star with the particular colours (spectrum) of individual chemical elements, scientists reckon they can deduce which particular elements are in the stars.

In previous centuries there were people who did not know what stars might be made of but they were also fascinated by them and just as dedicated in their pursuit of knowledge. We can read about some such people in the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel. These were experts in studying the heavens – the sort of people who drew star maps and who could tell you, for instance, what time of year you could expect to see a particular star or constellation. On this occasion they had noted something unusual about a particular star – or perhaps a planet or some other light – and they were determined to discover what it meant.

“When the Magi, the wise people, saw where the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy because they had found the child they had been searching for” (Matthew chapter 2 verses 9 – 10).

“The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 8 verse 1)

The stars, when we see them in their brilliance, are an awe-inspiring sight and, as it was for the Psalmist, can hint at God’s heavenly glory. They can also remind us, as that star declared to the Magi, that God did not remain remote in heaven but revealed his glory in that special human baby, his Son, Jesus Christ.

If you get a chance to see the stars late one evening this winter, you might like to wonder about them and see what thoughts they inspire about God’s glory shown to us.

By the way, the rest of the poem is reproduced here (see Wikipedia for more information):

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark.
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.