Reflecting and Doing
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Let’s make a fab craft and wonder at our amazing God. We’re going to make a planetarium! With an umbrella!!
The paint dries quite quickly, so you can make this at the start of a session and leave it somewhere warm to dry, then use it at the end.
You will need:
- Black umbrella
- White acrylic paint
- Glow-in-the-dark or fluorescent paint
- Star map – such as this one [below]
- paint brush and sponge
- Torch – normal for glow-in-the-dark paint or UV for fluorescent paint
Open your umbrella and use these struts to locate the constellations shown on the map. (This map is centred on the North Pole. If you are in the southern hemisphere, you may wish to feature different constellations.)
Mark the major constellations on the inside of the umbrella with dots of white paint. Use the handle of a paintbrush to make larger dots for the main stars. Lightly sponge a fuzzy band for the Milky Way (top right). You can add extra tiny stars between the constellations if you like.
When the white paint is dry, go over the dots with luminous (glow-in-the-dark) or UV (fluorescent) paint. This makes the stars stand out better and means you can use the planetarium in the light or in the dark.
Have people lie on the floor with their heads in the middle and hold the umbrella over everyone’s heads. Now switch off the lights and switch on the torch. Slowly rotate the umbrella to imitate the turning of the heavens. Have someone read the passage, or use a recording, such as this from Bible Gateway. [click]
When you have finished, you might like to stay in silence and allow people to compose their own reflective response to God’s majesty. You could have pens, paints, paper, or any other creative media available for this.
The Science Bit
It’s worth knowing the difference between glow-in-the-dark and fluorescent because one works with normal light, and one with ultraviolet. Check the paint you are using carefully, because not all packaging designers know the difference!
Glow-in-the-dark, (luminous) paint absorbs normal light and stores it, then releases that light when it is dark. The spooky green glow of alarm clock hands comes from glow-in-the-dark paint. You ‘charge’ the paint with normal light, then it glows when you turn the lights off. (It glows when the lights are on as well, but you can’t see it.) Luminous paint is usually only pale green and works with a normal torch.
Fluorescent (UV or day-glo) paint takes in ultraviolet light (sometimes called ‘black light’) and sends it back out as visible light. This is called fluorescing. It happens in the light and the dark, but shows up best in the ‘dark’ (ie, no visible light). Fluorescent things are sometimes called glow-in-the-dark, but they shoudl not be, because they need light (UV) to fluoresce. Fluorescent paint comes in a range of colours and won’t work with a normal torch. UV torches are widley available.
Sometimes, it’s best for me to just shut up and let God’s word speak without my mumbling all over it. This is one of those times.
Get comfortable. Put down whatever you are doing. Just. Listen.
Isaiah 40:21-31 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
mighty in power,
not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God’?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Planetarium: from an idea by H. A. Rey. See a video demonstration at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RclpJt43mTU
Star map: with thanks to J. B. Kaler http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/cm1.html reproduced under ‘fair use for educational purposes’ Maps from Stars, Scientific American Library, J. B. Kaler, Freeman, NY, 1992, copyright © James B. Kaler. All rights reserved. These contents are the property of the author and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the author’s consent except in fair use for educational purposes.
Image: public domain