February/March 2001


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Nehemia Gordon from Jerusalem, Israel compiled the following New Moon Reports.


January 2001 - On Thursday January 25, 2001 the New Moon was sighted by Magdi Shamuel from a hilltop about 20 km south of Beersheba.  The moon was first sighted at 17:34 through binoculars and a few minutes later with the naked eye.  The moon remained visible with the naked eye for 1-2 minutes.  Sunset was observed from the same location at 17:12.  [The first day of the Hebrew month Shevat began at sunset on January 25, 2001].


February 2001 – On Saturday February 24, 2001 the New Moon was first sighted at 17:38 by Yosi Gaber from Ramla; 17:41 from Ofra; 17:42 from Petach Tikva; 17:46 by Magdi from Ashdod; 17:48 by Devorah from Jerusalem; 17:53 by Issac Sergani from Arad; 17:53 by Musa from Ofakim; and 17:56 from Ma’alei Adumim.  [The first day of the Hebrew month Adar began at sunset on February 24, 2001].


            The next New Moon, which will begin the Hebrew month of Abib (Nisan), will most likely be visible from Jerusalem near sunset on March 26.  Sunset March 26, to sunset March 27, will most likely be Abib 1.  Abib 15 will most likely occur on April 10 this year (sunset April 9, to sunset April 10).  This is an interesting date on the Gregorian Calendar when considering the astronomical events that occurred on this date in 1996, 1997 and 2000.  There will be more on this in the soon upcoming April issue of Biblical Astronomy.

            Charts 189 and 190 show the position of the moon in the heavens as seen from Jerusalem on the evening of March 26, at 22 minutes after sunset.  The moon is in The Band in the sign Pisces (the nation of Israel).  Cetus (the beast from the sea) is to the left of the moon.  This is nowhere near as spectacular as last year’s Abib new moon and surrounding celestial events, but may prove to be noteworthy.


            Speaking of the moon, in the January issue of Biblical Astronomy it was mentioned that the Total Lunar Eclipse of January 9, amazingly fell on the same Hebrew and Gregorian calendar dates as the Total Lunar Eclipse of January 9, 1 B.C., and both were very near the same celestial coordinate.  I later took thought on the subject and realized that any lunar eclipse falling on a particular Gregorian date (such as January 9) will always be in the same or very near to the same coordinate.  This is because the sun is always in the same, or, very close to the same celestial coordinate every year on the same solar or Gregorian date (such as during the Vernal Equinox).  That coordinate slowly moves through the constellations due to the precessional movement of the earth.  The moon is 180 degrees from the sun during a lunar eclipse, thus the moon will be very near or at the same celestial coordinate on the same Gregorian date of any given year during an eclipse.

            Also, the moon is full in the middle of the Hebrew month, and it is also full during an eclipse.  So when the moon goes into an eclipse, it is always on the 14th or 15th day of any given Hebrew month.  When there is an eclipse on January 9, it will most likely fall (75% chance, depending on a 12 month or 13 month year on the Jewish calendar) on Tebet 14. 

            Other than the total eclipses that fell on January 9, in 1 B.C. and 2001, there have been 5 other total lunar eclipses that have occurred in the last 2,000 years on the same Gregorian date or evening of January 9/10, which were visible from Jerusalem.  They were in the years 65, 456, 1042, 1544, and 1982.  In the last 2,000 years there were only 2 partial lunar eclipses that fell on January 9/10 which were visible from Jerusalem, and they occurred in the years 540 and 1591.   For the most part, the total lunar eclipses that fell on January 9 were many years or centuries apart.  But in the last 19 years there have been two of them. 

            Charts 191 and 192 show the position of the moon during the total lunar eclipse of January 9, 1982 as seen from Jerusalem at 9:54 p.m. JST.  The position of the moon here is very close to the same coordinate that it was on January 9, 2001 [Compare these charts to Charts 183 and 184 in the January 2001 issue of Biblical Astronomy – the constellation lines are in a different format but notice the position of the moon compared to the location of the star Wasat].  Of course, this is to be expected.  Also, January 9, 1982 was Tebet 14.





                Mars and the star Antares in the constellation Scorpius will come into conjunction on March 5, 2001.  Charts 193 and 194 show the positions of the Mars and Antares as seen from Jerusalem at 4:50 a.m. on March 5, 2001.   Mars symbolizes Michael the warrior angel and the word Antares [Ant-ares] literally means the rival or enemy of Mars (ares is the ancient Latin for Mars).  In the Arabic, Antares means the Wounding; the emphasis being on the wounding of the enemy of the seed of the woman.

            Mars comes into conjunction with Antares about every 2 years.  It was two days after the Mars/Antares conjunction of November 2, 1995 that Prime Minister Rabin of Israel was assassinated.  It was two days after the Mar/Antares conjunction of March 5, 2001 that Ariel Sharon became Israel’s 11th prime minister (officially started his tour of duty).

            Another interesting celestial event that is ongoing in the scorpion [Akrab is the Hebrew name for the constellation which means the conflict or war] is the brightening of the star Delta Scorpii or Dschubba, which is the center star in the head of the scorpion.  See the article “Head of Scorpion Getting Brighter” in the August 2000 issue of Biblical Astronomy for previous information on this star.


The following article from a February 6, 2001 news release by Sky & Telescope is an update on Dschubba.


Delta Scorpii’s Eruption Continues – “Last July the familiar head of Scorpius took a new look as its middle star in the naked-eye row of Beta, Delta, and Pi Scorpii near Antares.  A type-BO blue giant, Delta seemed to be undergoing a Gamma-Cassiopeiae-type outburst.

            It’s still going on.  Delta faded slightly by the time it disappeared into the sunset late last fall, but when it emerged into the dawn sky in late December, skywatchers found it still brighter than normal.  It has been back up to magnitude 1.9 or 1.8 for the last couple of weeks.

            If Delta Scorpii is following in the venerable footsteps of Gamma Cassiopeiae (the prototype of the Gamma Cas category of variables), it has an interesting future ahead.  Gamma Cas brightened from about magnitude 2.25 to 1.6 in 1937 and remained near this peak for many months.  It then dwindled to magnitude 3.0 during the next three years, substantially fainter than it had ever been seen.  It then took more than 15 years to brighten back to normal.  Both Delta Sco and Gamma Cas are rapidly rotating Be stars evolving off the main sequence and occasionally flinging mass from their equators.”





            Charts 195 and 196 display the path of Venus from January 23, 2001 to June 10, 2001.  Venus (the bright and morning star) was, is, and will be in the constellation Pisces (the nation of Israel) between the above given dates.  Throughout February, Venus shone with great brilliancy in the early evening skies.  Venus is in the midst of a retrograde loop and will be at its eastern stationary position (on the left side of the loop as seen in the charts) on March 9.  Venus will be at its western stationary position (right side of loop) on April 20.  Venus will disappear from the evening sky in late March and will reappear in the morning sky in early April.

            The Russian space station Mir is shown on these charts in very near proximity to Venus on June 10.  The space station is doomed to be cast to the earth long before that date.




            The following is from a February 15 news release by NASA.

            “You can’t tell by looking, but scientists say the Sun has just undergone and important change.  Our star’s magnetic field has flipped.

            The Sun’s magnetic north pole, which was in the northern hemisphere just a few months ago, now points south.  It’s a topsy-turvy situation, but not an unexpected one.

‘This always happens around the time of solar maximum,’ says David Hathaway, a solar physicist at the Marshall Space Flight Center.  ‘The magnetic poles exchange places at the peak of the sunspot cycle.  In fact, it’s a good indication that Solar Max is really here.’

            The Sun’s magnetic poles will remain as they are now, with the north magnetic pole pointing through the Sun’s southern hemisphere, until the year 2012 when they will reverse again.  This transition happens, as far as we know, at the peak of every 11-year sunspot cycle – like clockwork.

            Earth’s magnetic field also flips, but with less regularity.  Consecutive reversals are spaced 5 thousand years to 50 million years apart.  The last reversal happened 740,000 years ago.  Some researchers think our planet is overdue for another one, but nobody knows exactly when the next reversal might occur.”





            The following article is by Robert Roy Britt who is the Senior Science Writer for


Naked Eye Comet Possible for Christmas 2001


26 February 2001 – “A comet detected three months ago is ambling toward the inner solar system and could be visible to the naked eye late this year, possibly providing the best comet show since Hale-Bopp in 1997.  Tickets to the show should be popular, as the comet threatens to make its apparition a one-time engagement.

            The comet was first thought to be an asteroid when it was spotted Nov. 16, 2000 by researchers at the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project (LINEAR).  It was later identified as a comet and given the official designation of 2000 WM1.  Scientists are referring to it as Comet LINEAR, but it is different from the comet 1999 S4, also called Comet LINEAR, which broke apart late in the summer of 2000.

            ‘Although no comet can be relied upon completely, there is a very good chance that [this comet] will be a naked-eye Christmas comet for 2001,’ says astronomer Mark Kidger.         

The show is expected to continue into early 2002.

How bright will it be? – Comets are made mostly of dust and gas, primarily carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane.  Scientists liken them to dirty snowballs.  Predicting how bright they will get as they approach the inner solar system has proven tricky in the past.

            Like all comets, 2000 WM1 will loop around the Sun, though its path is not yet known with certainty.  As it approaches the Sun, gas and dust will burn off of it at an increasing rate.  Sunlight reflecting from this material will make the comet’s head, or coma, grow brighter.  The gas and dust will be pushed away by charged particles known as the solar wind, forming two tails.  Dust particles form a yellowish tail, and ionized gas makes a bluish ion tail.  The tails always point away from the Sun.

            How bright a comet gets depends on many factors including its size, exactly what it’s made of and how close it gets to the Sun and Earth.

            Estimates by Brian Marsden at the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center put the peak brightness for Comet LINEAR at roughly magnitude 4.  On this scale, higher numbers are fainter.  The faintest object visible to the naked eye under dark rural skies is about magnitude 6, for example.  The brightest stars are around magnitude minus 1.4.  Venus, at its most brilliant, reaches minus 4.7.

            Kidger figures the peak brightness will be between magnitude 3 and 5, sometime in November, and he’s optimistic that it will be on the brighter side.  Better estimates will be possible in April or May, he says.

            ‘In all cases apart from the most pessimistic, the comet should be naked-eye visible,’ Kidger says.  ‘The worst case would make it an easy binocular object.’

            NASA’s Ron Baalke echoed Kidger’s caution, saying that predicting the brightness of a comet is far from an exact science.  ‘The current estimates on how bright the comet may be varies from magnitude 3 to magnitude 7,’ Baalke said.  ‘There is a possibility the comet may be a naked-eye comet, but there is no guarantee that it will be.’


The big show, then gone forever? – As of Feb. 21, Comet LINEAR was 447 million miles from the Sun, about as far out as Jupiter, and poking along at 42,500 miles per hour.  The Sun’s gravity has pulled the comet in from the distant Oort Cloud, a reservoir of icy bodies that surrounds the solar system and was created back when the sun was formed, some 4.5 billion years ago.

            As the dirty snowball gets closer to the Sun, it will speed up enormously, Kidger explains, reaching a top speed of 125,300 miles per hour on January 22, 2002.  On that day, it will be at its closest point to the Sun, some 51.7 million miles away.  Scientists call this perihelion.

            Astronomers suspect that 2000 WM1 is a “new” comet, making its first pass from the Oort Cloud into the inner solar system.  Marsden of the minor planet center calculates that it won’t come around again for at least 100,000 years.  However, the orbit appears to be ‘open,’ meaning that 2000 WM1 may shoot off into interstellar space and never return.


Similar to Hyakutake – Kidger says the comet’s diameter is roughly 2 miles, though this estimate may change as better observations are made.  On approach to the Sun, the comet will pass within 30 million miles of Earth in early December.

            This scenario will be similar to Comet Hyakutake in 1996, which was estimated to be about the same size and came within 9.3 million miles of our planet.  Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 was much larger, some 25 to 44 miles wide.  But Hale-Bopp was almost 15 times farther away than Hyakutake.  Both comets made for delightful naked-eye viewing and fabulous telescopic photographs.

            Like Hyakutake, Comet LINEAR may reach its peak brightness before perihelion.  Kidger says this means that while it should be easy to see, the comet’s tail may not be very spectacular.

            ‘The fact that the comet is new suggests that it will probably brighten quickly initially and then slow down considerably as it gets closer to the Sun and the fresh ices on the surface of the nucleus are exhausted,’ Kidger says.  ‘A consequence of this is that it is unlikely that the comet will have a bright tail when [it is] closest to the Earth and brightest at the end of the year.  Even though Comet LINEAR may be quite bright and easy to see with the naked eye, it may be little more than a fuzzy patch in the sky.’”

            For more info on this comet see the January 2001 issue of Biblical Astronomy.





            The following article is by Associated Press Writer Mark Lavie, March 8, 2001.


JERUSALEM – Ariel Sharon set to work on his first full day as Israel’s prime minister, after pledging that his “supreme mission” is security in a country fearful of the threat of Palestinian militant attacks.

            His first day in office Thursday coincided with the start of a joyous Jewish holiday, overshadowed by worries over threats by the militant group Hamas to conduct new suicide bombings in Israel.

            Presenting his government to the parliament the night before, Sharon pledged to restore a feeling of security to his people and held out the prospect of peace talks with the Palestinians – but repeated his condition that all violence must stop first.

            “The supreme mission of the new government is bolstering Israel’s security,” Sharon told the Knesset, pledging a “relentless struggle against violence and terror.”

            Sharon said his coalition would be ready for “painful compromises” toward peace with the Palestinians provided that they “abandon the way of violence, terrorism and incitement.”

            Sharon, the nation’s fifth prime minister in six years, heads a large and unwieldy government that inherits a five-month-old Palestinian uprising, a broken-down peace process and an anxiety-ridden Israel.

            The Islamic Hamas movement declared it would send 10 suicide bombers to greet Sharon and took credit for a bomb blast in the city of Netanya on Sunday that killed three Israelis and the bomber – the latest in a series of bomb attacks that has shaken Israelis.

            The city of Holon, south of Tel Aviv, canceled its traditional outdoor celebration of the Purim holiday Thursday night and Friday because of calls from citizens worried it could draw Palestinian bombers.

            As Sharon took office, the White House announced that the new Israeli leader will meet with President Bush in Washington on March 20 to discuss ways to end the unrest.

            The Knesset approved Sharon’s government in a 72 to 21 vote, reflecting the breadth of a coalition ranging from center-left to right and also including parties of Orthodox Jews, immigrants and labor unions.

            The new premier was short on specifics of his security plans, reflecting the political gymnastics he will need to perform and keep the diverse groups of parties together.

            Palestinian leaders rejected Sharon’s condition of stopping the violence before talks resume, blaming Israel for clashes that have taken the lives of 423 people in five months….

            Sharon, 73, is seen by many Palestinians as an archenemy because of his decades of operations against them, first as a career soldier and then as a politician.  Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was skeptical about Sharon’s peace offers, complaining over the lack of specifics…

            Sharon appealed to the Palestinians to make peace, but said that “despite concessions we have made… we still haven’t found a willingness for reconciliation and true peace on the other side.”

            He was backed by Ehud Barak, the incumbent he defeated soundly in a Feb. 6 election.  Speaking after Sharon, Barak said the Palestinian rejection of his far-reaching compromise offers, including a state in almost all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and parts of Jerusalem, showed that they are “not for true peace.”

            Barak said his offers are off the table and “do not obligate” the Sharon government…


May the super-abundant blessings of Yahweh be poured forth upon you.