One of the first things you learn as an amateur astronomer is that the view through your telescope is a lot different than the photographs in a book. A nebula that bursts with color on the page is a small white blotch in your telescope, even if your scope looks like this. Similarly, our unaided eyes see the Milky Way in summer as a long wispy cloud instead of the glorious profusion seen in astronomy magazines. This occurs for the same reason that a bright red car by day appears a shade of gray in the dark. Our little light-gatherers, aka. our eyes, just can’t stack up against long-exposure photography.
Far away from the city, the starry sky is, as Charlie Daniels put it, “like diamonds against black velvet.” And yet, the night sky is creation’s best illustration of how “we see in a mirror, dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12). It is as if God has placed a veil over a grand painting. But even in these shadowlands, the monochrome grandeur of the night sky is far more lovely than any creation of man. No wonder astronomers sometimes refer to the firmament as “the heavens.”