“The Glorious Dance of Binary Stars”

by Dr. David Bradstreet

“Remember the dual suns Luke Skywalker saw from his home planet of Tatooine?” asks Christian and veteran Eastern University astronomer Dr. David Bradstreet. “Star Wars,” he notes, got it right.” A significant percentage of stars in our universe exist together in pairs. More stars than not actually have companions, as is the case with the star in the handle of the Big Dipper, Mizar. Its companion star Alcor is visible to the unaided eye. Bradstreet, whose astronomical specialty is binary star systems, says that “Multiple-star systems like the binaries that warmed Luke’s skin make up 60 percent of all the stars in our cosmos,” Bradstreet notes. “Our sun is among the solo minority.” Over the four decades at Eastern University, Bradstreet has written curriculum and software about the wondrous phenomena of stellar fellowship which are used by astronomers all over the world. For Bradstreet, binaries bespeak of the glory of God. “In this dance of binary stars,” he says, “I see God. Not literally. God is invisible. And not philosophically. I’m not a pantheist (That’s the technical term for people who say the universe is God.) When I study the heavens, I see God’s character expressed in the order, beauty and complexity, and harmony of the many marvelous worlds he has made.”[1] Binary stars are the only way that astronomers can directly measure the masses of stars, arguably their single most important characteristic. Dr. Bradstreet’s contribution includes a harmonious narrative of his in-depth scientific knowledge of binary stars and a pastoral exegetical apologetic as to how he sees the dance of binaries declaring the glory of God.

Dr. David Bradstreet is an astronomy and physics professor and chair at Eastern University. He has written more than 100 scholarly papers and coathored Star Struck (Zondervan, 2016) and the Binary Maker 3.0 software program that helps astronomical researchers worldwide calculate and characteristics of binary stars. In 2014, the International Astronomical Union named the asteroid 5896 Bradstreet in honor of his contributions to binary star research and innovative digital planetarium curriculum. Read more about Dr. David Bradstreet here: http://templetonhonorscollege.com/about/people/faculty/bradstreet

[1] David Bradstreet and Steve Rabey, Star Struck, Seeing the Creator in the Wonders of Our Cosmos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 36.