In scientific terms an occult is a very useful astronomical event. The word itself has obvious connotations but the actual word itself means a concealment (look it up, I kid you not). It happens when something passes in front of something else. Usually it's important and we'd call it an eclipse, but on other occasions an occultation is little more than a curiosity.
When the moon of Pluto, Charon, passed in front of a star, scientists could look at the changes in light coming from the star to determine first of all what sort of atmosphere it has and secondly what it's made of. The theory is that the light passing through a gas gets split a little bit, and you can measure what light frequencies come out theother side.
Something went a bit odd. When the occultation happened, the light didn't disperse but just switched on and off. This can only mean one thing... there is no atmosphere on Charon.
What a pity. A lifeless place without an atmosphere, it's a bit like out local council meetings.
Pluto and Charon are also the target of a NASA mission. The New Horizons spacecraft is expected to be launched in their direction on 17 January, it is expected to arrive in 2015, that's a 9 year trip. At the end the spacecraft wil probably doing about 90,000mph.
When I look up at the night sky I can't help but be amazed at the sheer immensity of it all. Something travelling at 90,000mph takes 15 years to get where it's going. Aeroplanes take 24hrs at about 450mph to go half way around the world. To get to Pluto on a 747 would take 2.7 million years. It makes you feel really small doesn't it?
One of the interesting results of the findings was how big Charon is. It is thought to be about 700 miles in diameter. Something 700 miles big and they still are able to observe an occultation from 3660 million miles away.
Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space.
All of this was brought into being with just the command of a word? Whoa!
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Is there more of a blatantly obvious statement of how big God is than the entire of creation? Concealment? Not likely.