My husband, son, and I could be described as a Dark Sky Lovin’ family. In the summers my husband teaches our son to find the constellations with his laser pointer, in the winter we bundle up in ski gear and sleeping bags to watch the Geminids meteor shower, and next week we’ve got an all-nighter planned to observe the full lunar eclipse. One thing we’ve noticed when we meet up with other star gazers—the great majority of them talk more about Carl Sagan than the Creator of the Universe. So when we learned of the opportunity to review a brand new, God-honoring astronomy resource we jumped on it. Homeschooling mom, Dawnita Fogleman’s new publication is entitled Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars.
WE received a PDF downloads of the book, coloring pages for the young (or young at heart), and notebooking pages for older students. Additional materials needed would be a Bible, a scrapbook or notebook to hold the journal pages, coloring & decorating supplies. If you actually want to go outside and view the constellations you’re studying, a field guide or star locator would come in handy. I printed out the notebooking pages and then transferred the files to my Kindle for easier reading.
The book is organized by the 12 constellations of the Zodiac which most readers will be familiar with, although the author stresses that this is NOT about astrology. In fact, the chapter have titles like The Goat or A Bull instead of Sagittarius and Taurus. Each lesson includes the title constellation and a handful of neighboring star patterns. If the constellation (or stars within the constellation) are mentioned in the Bible, the author will focus on those verses first (using the King James version).
Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: Amos 5:8
In other cases, it is the picture represented by the stars that we can use as a spiritual reference. Virgo is a virgin—this can lead us to discussions on the virgin birth, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, etc. Or we can expand the idea to a virgin bride and discuss the Church as the Bride of Christ. The author shares that Virgo is the first constellation in the Jewish New Year and prominent during the Feast of Trumpets. Aries, the ram (a male lamb) is seen in the sky at the time of Passover, when male lambs are sacrificed –coincidence, I think not.
Sometimes the book really has to stretch to find a Biblical connection…Cygnus is a picture of a swan and to quote the text “there are no swans in the Bible, but another beautiful bird that is in the Bible a lot is the dove.” I think it would have been fine to leave that constellation out if we couldn’t find a good tie in.
Sometimes I think this stretching exercise could actually be misleading. Case in point-- the discussion on Canis Minor. The text says “The largest star is actually a star system named The Carpenter.” If you called it that in a conversation with other star gazers, they would have no idea what you were talking about because its common name is Procyon. Even Wikipedia (which the author used for a lot of her research) cites “in Babylonian mythology Procyon was known as Nangar the Carpenter, an aspect of Marduk..” [emphasis added]. The Babylonians weren’t prophesying about Christ’s occupation before beginning his ministry. They actually named it after one of their own gods.
My son, who’s gone through two astronomy courses and earned his astronomy merit badge, also picked up on a few inaccurate statements like “Ursa Major is the Big Dipper.” The Big Dipper is actually an asterism, or pattern of stars that form part of a larger constellation. In this case the Big Dipper makes up the tail and hindquarters of the much larger Big Bear (lit. Ursa Major).
So while I wouldn’t use Star Chronicles alone as a Bible-based Study of the Stars, I do think it makes a great Star-themed Study of the Bible. If you were doing a unit study on astronomy, you could use this for your Bible time. And this spring, when we go out to find new constellations in the sky we’ll discuss any Bible stories or verses that come to our mind along with the mostly mythological sources for the constellation names.
Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars is available in Paperback or PDF Download (look at the graphic for a coupon code good for the PDF version only thru 4/20/14)
Paperback (8 1/2 X 11, full color) available at: CreateSpace ($25): https://www.createspace.com/4730823