January/February 2002


Editor – Robert Scott Wadsworth <> P.O. Box 2272, Oregon City, OR 97045

Phone (503) 655-7430 <> e-mail – <> Website –





            Nehemia Gordon from Jerusalem Israel compiled the following New Moon Report for the month of January and the beginning of the 11th month on the Hebrew Calendar.

            “On Monday January 14, 2002 the New Moon was not seen from Israel.  Observers across the country reported that they were unable to see the New Moon.  Cloud coverage was visible on the horizon all over the country.

            The astronomical conditions on Jan 14 were “borderline” meaning that modern astronomy cannot tell us whether the moon would have been visible or not given good weather conditions.  In light of this we are observing this month based on the raw 30th-day-observation.  Raw 30th-day-observation means that if the moon is seen on the 30th day (around sunset concluding the 29th day), the month begins that evening, if not, the month begins the following evening by default.  A second report will be sent out with tomorrow night’s observations as soon as they are available.

            Borderline moons are a rare occurrence that happen about once a year.  Notable cases were Oct 2001 and Sep 2000.

            On 15 January 2002 the New Moon was sighted from Israel.  Magdi Shamuel saw the moon for an extended period from Azur and later from Ashdod.  Daniel Mark sighted the moon at 17:50 from Givat Yearim (near Jerusalem).”

            The New Moon for the beginning of the 12th Hebrew month Adar is expected to be sighted near sunset on February 13.

            The March issue of Biblical Astronomy will not be sent out until right after the Barley report is received from Jerusalem, which should be by the end of the second week in March.  The March issue will not be as late as the January issue, which I sincerely apologize for.  Please forgive me.

            The following article is from Karaite Korner Newsletter #89 dated January 8, 2002.

            Abib and the Beginning of the Biblical Year – “The beginning of the Biblical year is dependent on the ripening of the barley in the Land of Israel.  If the barley is not ripe during Hag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) there can be no Omer (wave-sheaf) offering in the Temple since this offering consists of “a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest” (Lev 23:10).  If the barley is not ripe during Hag HaMatzot there can be no 50-day countdown to Shavout (Pentecost) since this countdown begins at “such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn” (Dt 16:9).  For the barley to be ripe during Hag HaMatzot it must at least be Abib by the beginning of the Month.  If the barley is not Abib by the beginning of the month then that month is by definition not the First Month, as is written: “Keep the month of the Abib so that you may perform the Passover [sacrifice] to YHWH your God” (Dt 16:1). 

            This year the 12th month ends at sunset on March 15 and therefore we will be searching for the Abib on March 14 and 15, allowing it the maximum amount of time to Mature.”

            See the April 2001 issue of Biblical Astronomy for more information on the Abib of the barley.





            An asteroid with the designated name 2001 YB5 just missed striking the earth on January 7, 2001.  The asteroid was discovered on December 26, 2001, just 12 days before it streaked by the earth traveling at a velocity of around 68,000 miles-per-hour.  The size of the asteroid was estimated to be between 220 and 490 meters across.

            Chart 245 shows the orbital paths of the asteroid, Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury and the positions of the earth and the asteroid on January 1, 2002.  Chart 246 shows the positions of the earth and the asteroid on January 7 when the asteroid reached its closest approach to Earth.  The names of the two here are overlapped.  Chart 247 is a zoomed in view from a different angle of the earth, moon and asteroid at its closest approach.  The earth crossed the path of the asteroid 8 hours after the asteroid crossed the path of the earth.  If the asteroid came 8 hours later it would have been very disastrous.  Considering that the earth reaches that point in its orbit every 365.24 days and the asteroid reaches that point in its orbit every 1,327.42 days, 8 hours is a very close shave.

            For those who have Internet connection, I made a Quicktime movie (animation) of this event, which you can see by clicking here Near Miss if you have Quicktime.  If you don’t have Quicktime you can get it for free off the Internet at 


            The movie covers a 12 hour and 20 minute period of time in real time (movie lasts about 12 seconds).  The date and time are shown in the upper left corner of the screen and the time progresses as the animation progresses.

            The following article on the asteroid is by Margaret Jurro and Joe Brean, National Post, Canada, January 8, 2002




              “Between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago, a small asteroid about 24 metres in diameter struck the Earth and formed this crater in Arizona that measures 1.2 km in diameter. The discovery of fragments of the Canyon Diablo meteorite helped prove the feature was in fact an impact crater.
              An asteroid packing the power of hundreds of nuclear bombs and capable of wiping out a major country hurtled past Earth early yesterday in what astronomers say was a close call. The giant space rock, known as 2001 YB5 and believed to be between 220 and 490 metres across, was only twice as far away as the moon as it sped by Earth at about 1:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Experts said the distance -- about 600,000 kilometres -- is a whisker in cosmic terms, and the rock would have caused global chaos had it smacked the planet.

 "It could have vaporized the core of a city like Toronto, leaving a crater two to three kilometres across and creating a huge fireball and shock wave that would have knocked you off your feet in Vancouver," says University of Victoria astronomer Dave Balam, who has been tracking asteroids for 25years. He and other astronomers say the dust cloud kicked up by such an impact could have exacted a huge global toll, triggering crop failures and climate changes that could have been felt for years. "Such an object could literally wipe out a medium-sized country if it impacted and lead to a global economic meltdown," said British asteroid expert Benny Peiser, at Liverpool John Moores University.         

Even worse, the asteroid could have crashed into the ocean, unleashing devastating tsunamis. Had YB5 splashed down in the Pacific, low-lying coastal cities and communities from Canada to Australia could have been hit, causing millions of deaths, says Professor Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, who studies such space menaces.

While asteroid YB5 is now safely past Earth, Prof. Brown and other scientists say the fly-by is a reminder of how vulnerable the planet is to the huge wayward rocks that periodically come flying out of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Thousands of asteroids the size of YB5 are believed to be flying though space but there is little information on their orbits, Prof. Brown said. As in the case of YB5, they just suddenly appear on the radar screen.

YB5 was only spotted heading toward Earth on Boxing Day by a Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking survey telescope on Mount Palomar in California. NASA designated the asteroid "potentially hazardous," a designation that applies to any object larger than 150 metres that will come within 7.5 million kilometres of our planet, says Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program office.

By studying the light reflecting off the rock, scientists estimate it is travelling at 30.6 kilometres a second. If it hit, Mr. Yeomans says, the impact would have weighed in at 6,000 megatonnes.

Astronomers stress that at no point did they think the asteroid would crash into Earth -- a good thing, as there was too little time to have done anything to deflect or destroy the asteroid. "It is a reminder of what is going to happen unless we track them more efficiently than we do and make better preparations to defend our planet," Dr. Peiser said.

U.S. and British astronomers have been improving efforts to track potentially hazardous asteroids. But a key component of the international effort -- Mr. Balam's asteroid- tracking program in Victoria -- was shut down three weeks ago because of a lack of funding and support. "We just couldn't keep it up," says Mr. Balam, noting how the program operated on a shoestring budget for years.

The National Research Council contributed time on its telescope in Victoria more than 100 nights a year, and a U.S. foundation had been covering Mr. Balam's salary as he tracked small asteroids and fed the information to the international asteroid tracking community. The U.S. funding was cut last year and no Canadian money could be found to replace it, despite an endorsement from the Canadian Space Agency's meteorites and impacts advisory committee, which wanted the program to survive.

"It's really an incredible loss to Canadian planetary science, and a big loss to the international community," says Prof. Brown, who sits on the committee. He says Mr. Balam is one of the world's premier asteroid trackers. "People like Dave are a national treasure," said Prof. Alan Hildebrand, at the University of Calgary, who chairs the CSA committee.

Astronomers are becoming increasingly vocal about the risks of asteroid collision, saying Earth has simply had a long run of good luck in escaping big cosmic debris. NASA's main focus is on identifying asteroids between one and 10 kilometres across. The number of these is estimated at 700 [more likely 1000], plus or minus 230 [we have already found more than 700-230=470!]. That leaves the vast majority of space objects, which are under one kilometre, still to be detected and tracked.

An asteroid believed to be about 10 kilometres across mashed into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, killing the dinosaurs and much other life on Earth. That impact is believed to have triggered a firestorm and a dust cloud that obscured sunlight around the planet for decades. The space rock that flew by yesterday was "not in the same game," said Prof. Hildebrand, who helped prove a giant asteroid killed off the dinosaurs. But Prof. Hildebrand says smaller rocks -- like 2001 YB5 -- pose a real threat and should be tracked, since it might be possible to divert those bound for Earth.
               In 1908, an asteroid believed to have been about 60 metres across exploded over Siberia with the force of 600 times the Hiroshima bomb, reducing a 40-kilometre wide patch of forest to matchwood.

David Jewitt, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Honolulu, has estimated there is a 1% chance the Earth will be struck by a 300-metre asteroid sometime this century. "Such an impact would deliver a withering 1,000- megatonne explosion and cause perhaps 100,000 deaths," he said, adding that in a densely populated area, such as the U.S. eastern seaboard or Western Europe, the fatalities could rise into tens of millions.”

                The below chart shows the position of the asteroid in the constellation Ara at the moment of the asteroid’s closest approach to the earth.   

            The constellation is an alter of fire tipped upside down with its flames pointed toward Earth.  In the Northern Hemisphere the constellation is seen low on the horizon with its flames touching the earth.  Its main theme is God’s coming judgment and Consuming fire prepared for His enemies.  Revelation 8:1-9 makes mention of this alter as well as a great mountain burning with fire cast into the sea.

            “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. 

And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 

And another angel came and stood at the Alter, having a golden censer; and there was given him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden alter which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.  And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the alter, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. 

And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. 

The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. 

And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and a third part of the sea became blood.  And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea that had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”


By the grace of God the earth escaped being struck by a “great mountain” this time.  But perhaps this event is meant to serve as a reminder that this scripture will be fulfilled at some date in the future.  God’s wrath is reserved for His enemies, not His people.  Those who are in the Messiah are saved from the wrath to come.  Since those who are in the Messiah are still on the planet, the events of Revelation 8 could not happen at this time.




            The planet Jupiter reached opposition and its closest approach to the earth for the year on January 1, 2001.  At that time Jupiter (Tzedek – The Lord our Righteousness) was also shining at its brightest magnitude for the year.  Chart 248 shows the position of Jupiter in the constellation Gemini at the time of opposition.  Jupiter was in near conjunction with the star Mebsuta, which means treading under foot, at that time.





            On January 24, 2001 Saturn was seen being occulted (covered) by the moon from southern Japan and Equatorial Africa.  This event was not observable from Israel or the United States.  Chart 249 shows the positions of the moon and Saturn in the constellation Taurus near the eye of the ream during the occultation.

            On January 26, 2001 Jupiter was seen being occulted by the moon from northern Europe.  This event was not observable from Israel or the United States.  Chart 250 shows the positions of the moon and Jupiter in the constellation Gemini during the occultation.





            Comet LINEAR (C/2000 WM1) went into outburst on January 29 and had a gain in brightness of 3.5 magnitudes.  By January 26 the comet had dimmed to magnitude 6.4.  On January 29, the comet was at about magnitude 2.9, easily visible to the naked eye.  The comet at this time is only visible to observers in the Southern Hemisphere. 

            In comet terminology from the Comet Homepage an outburst is an unexpected increase in brightness over a short period of time due to release of dust and gas into the coma from the nucleus.  For a visual observer, the nuclear condensation (a bright spot near the center of the coma) will appear to become star-like and brighter in the comet’s coma.  Over time (hours – days), the size of the nuclear condensation will increase as the dust moves away from the nucleus.  The change in brightness can be as little as half a magnitude and as much as many magnitudes.

              The below chart shows the position of the comet below the constellation Sagittarius when it went into outburst.



            The constellation Ara which was before mentioned is a decan of the Sign Sagittarius and seen here in the lower right side of the chart.  The Sign Sagittarius (The Redeemer’s triumph) is referred to in E. W. Bullinger’s The Witness of the Stars, in which he writes on page 63: “John in his apocalyptic vision sees the same mighty Conqueror going forth. ‘I saw (he says) a white horse, and He who sat on him had a bow,… and he went forth conquering and to conquer’ (Rev. 6:2).

            This is precisely what is foreshadowed in the star pictured sign now called the by the modern Latin name Sagittarius, which means the Archer.

            The Hebrew name for this constellation is Kesith, which also means the Archer.  In his latter writings, E. W. Bullinger refers to the one sitting on the white horse in Revelation 6:2 as the antichrist, not the Messiah.  I have heard good arguments for both interpretations.  Time will tell.




            The following is a news bulletin released by the Comet Observation Homepage on February 2, 2002.

            Comet C/2002 C1 (Ikeya-Zhang) may become naked-eye object in March – IAU Circular 7812 (Feb 1, 2002) reported the discovery of a comet of 8.5 – 9.0 magnitude by  Kaoru Ikeya (Japan) and Daquing Zhang (China).  This comet, located in the evening sky at about –17.5 degrees declination at discovery, is moving northward.  IAUC 7813 (Feb 2, 2002) reported a preliminary orbit that indicates that this comet will come to perihelion on March 8.9, 2002 UT at a perihelion distance of 0.49 AU (about 45.6 million miles from the sun).  The predicted peak brightness is ml=4.5.  However, the comet will be poorly placed when at it’s brightest in March being less than 30 degrees from the Sun.  The Northern Hemisphere will be favored during much of the apparition.” 

            The comet was in the tail of the constellation Cetus (the beast from the sea) when discovered.  Chart 251 shows the position of Comet Ikeya-Zhang in the constellation Pisces (the nation of Israel) on March 8, 2001 when the comet is at perihelion (closest approach to the sun).  This chart shows the sky looking westward in the early evening from Jerusalem toward the Mediterranean Sea.  Cetus (the beast from the sea) appears to be standing on the shore of the sea (Rev. 13:1 NIV)

            According to my calculations, the comet will be in the constellation Draco (the Dragon) when it is at its closest approach to Earth on April 28, 2002, at a distance of 38 million miles.

            There will be more on this comet in upcoming issues of Biblical Astronomy.





            The Moon will again occult Saturn on February 20, 2002.  Chart 252 shows the positions of the moon and Saturn in the constellation Taurus at the time of the occultation.

            This event will be visible from the United States.  The following is from the February 2002 issue of Astronomy magazine, page 62.

            “Saturn’s occultation, on February 20, is the last one visible from the continental United States until 2014, albeit in daylight for most observers.  It’s visible along a line from Mexico to San Francisco to the Hudson Bay.  The occultation takes place about an hour before sunset.  Don’t let daylight put you off, though.   Finding the moon during the day is easy – if there are no clouds, of course – and picking up the much dimmer Saturn is a breeze after that.  American observers on the East Coast will see the event in a dark, early evening sky, while Midwest and western skywatchers witness the event in daylight, just before sunset.  The reappearance of Saturn from behind the moon takes place approximately an hour after disappearance.  However, the event is not visible from most of the northwestern United States.”

            If you plan to observe this event, I strongly suggest that you use binoculars if it occurs during the daylight from your location.


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.