Biblical Astronomy


September/October 2003


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Nehemia Gordon from Jerusalem, Israel compiled the following New Moon Report for late August 2003 and the 12th month for the Hebrew calendar, the month of Elul.


August 28 -  “With all observers reporting in, it is confirmed that now one saw the New Moon from Israel on Thursday August 28, 2003.  The moon had borderline astronomical conditions, which means we are not certain it would have been visible even under ideal weather conditions.  The moon has already been seen in the western hemisphere, confirming that it will be visible tonight (Friday August 29, 2003) in Israel.”


August 29 – “The new moon was seen tonight, Friday August 29, 2003, by Nehemia Gordon and Devorah Gordon from Jerusalem.”


As reported by Roy Hoffman, NMR Laboratory Manager, Department of Organic Chemistry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the moon was not visible to the naked eye on August 28 but was seen with binoculars by two observers from Jerusalem.  The moon was visible to the naked eye on August 29.


I expected that the moon would be visible with the naked eye near sunset on the 28th of August.  I also expected it to be visible on June 30th but it was not visible to the naked eye until July 1, though it too was visible with binoculars on June 30.  The criteria that I use for figuring if or when the new moon would be visible from Jerusalem with the naked eye has been very accurate over the past 5 years, up until now.  There was a case in November 1998 in which the position of the moon in relation to the earth and sun was below the criteria that it was on June 30, 2003 and August 28, 2003.  It was visible to the naked eye from Jerusalem then.  This is a bit of a mystery but I think that I have solved it. 


In the heat of the summer months, there is a greater evaporation rate for the water in the Mediterranean Sea and also a greater evapotranspiration rate for plants and trees.  This makes for a thicker atmosphere (so to speak) in the local area.  When attempting to observe the new moon from Jerusalem, one has to look westward toward the Mediterranean Sea, and near the horizon, where the atmosphere is at its thickest.  It would be much more difficult to pick out a borderline new moon in the hot summer months than it would be in the cooler autumn, winter and early spring months.  I have heard that the past summer in Israel was a bit hotter than normal.  All of these factors are most likely the reason why the moon was not visible to the naked eye on June 30 or August 28.  It was not because of astronomical conditions, but because of atmospheric conditions, even though the sky appeared clear.


The new moon will not have the same astronomical criteria as it did in the above dates in the fall, winter or spring until at least the year 2010.  So we will have to wait a bit to go on with this “field study.”


September 27 (from Nehemia Gordon)  - “On Saturday September 27, 2003 the New Moon was sighted by numerous observers from Israel.  From the Old City of Jerusalem the moon was sighted at 18:39 by Devorah Gordon and at 18:40 by Nehemia Gordon.  From elsewhere in Jerusalem the moon was sighted at 18:33 by Michael Rood, and then by Jamie Louie and Chaim Goldman.  The moon was also sighted from Kefar Eldad (northern Judea) at 18:29 by Wendy Sutherland and Hen-El Brill; at 18:33 by Bruce Brill, and at 18:34 by Oren Brill.


On the previous evening, Friday September 26, 2003, the moon was not visible from Israel.”


The New Moon sighted on September 27 began the Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) and the first day of the seventh month on the Hebrew Calendar, the month of Ethanim (Tishri).


The next new moon is expected to be visible from Jerusalem near sunset on October 26, 2003.            


Chart 328 below shows the position of the sun, moon and Venus (the bright and morning star) in Bethulah (Virgo) at 30 minutes after sunset on September 27, 2003.   Jupiter (Zedek) and Mercury (Gabriel) are in Arieh (Leo – the Lion) and appear in the morning sky.


Chart 328 – Position of Sun, Moon and planets 30 minutes after sunset on 9-27-03


It was on Yom Teruah in 3 BC that Yahoshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) was born.   At that time the sun and the moon were in Bethulah also.  The woman was clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet.  Also at that time, Venus and Mercury were in Bethulah in the evening sky, and Jupiter was in Arieh in the morning sky. 


Dates of the Fall Feasts for 2003


Sept. 27/28      Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets)


Oct.  06/07      Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)


Oct.  11/12      1st Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)


Oct.  18/19      Shemini Atzeret (Last Great Day)


The days are from sunset on the first date to sunset on the second (bold) date.





About every two to three years the celestial sign that portrays what is written in Revelation 12:1 is observable from Jerusalem. 


Rev. 12:1 (KJV) – “And there appeared a great wonder (marg. – sign) in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”


This woman is the woman of Genesis 3:15 and the woman of Revelation 12 and is portrayed in the constellation Bethulah (Virgo).


Chart 329 below shows the local view from Jerusalem of Bethulah setting in the west about 20 minutes after sunset on September 28, 2003.  The sun is in Bethulah but below the horizon here.  She is clothed with the sun and the moon is about to go under her feet. 


Chart 329


The verse that follows is a figure of speech used throughout the scriptures to define “Jacob’s Trouble.”


Rev. 12:2 (KJV) – “And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.”  (Compare with Jeremiah 30:4-7, Jeremiah 6:22-25, I Thessalonians 5:1-4).


This woman is Israel.


Chart 330 below shows the constellation Draco, the Dragon high above the northern horizon as looking from Jerusalem about 30 minutes after sunset on September 28, 2003.


Chart 330 – Draco the dragon, looking north from Jerusalem after sunset on Sept. 28, 2003


Chart 331 below shows Draco with its head below the horizon as looking to the north from Jerusalem about 30 minutes before sunrise on September 29, 2003.  The dragon moved downward in the sky throughout the night.  This is a portrayal of the dragon being cast down to the earth.


Chart 331 – Draco as seen from Jerusalem about 30 minutes before sunrise on Sept. 29, 2003



The dragon is the dragon of Revelation 12 who is revealed as “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”


This is the same serpent as mentioned in Genesis 3:15 where the prophecy is given of the conflict between the woman and the woman’s seed, and the dragon and the dragon’s seed. Since the prophecy was given in Gen. 3:15, there have been many conflicts between the woman and the dragon, with part the later half of the prophecy being fulfilled when Yahshua was crucified (the wounding of the heel by the serpent).  The final conflict between the woman (Israel) and the dragon (Satan) begins to unfold in Rev. 12, which ultimately ends with the Devil getting his head crushed (Rev. 19:19 – 20:3; 20:7 – 10).


Chart 332 below shows the constellation Cetus, the beast from the sea, standing on the horizon looking west-southwest from Jerusalem about 30 minutes before sunrise.  Cetus is actually setting or moving down toward the horizon at this time, but appears to be standing on the horizon when looking at it for a short period of time.  The horizon here is toward the Mediterranean Sea and looking from Jerusalem, Cetus appears to be standing on the sea or the seashore.  Cetus is another form of the dragon. The beast from the sea of Rev. 13 is the seed of the dragon (serpent).   The scene of Chart 332 portrays Rev. 12:18 (Complete Jewish Bible) – “Then the dragon stood on the seashore…”


Chart 332 – Cetus, the beast from the sea, standing on the seashore of the Mediterranean as seen looking west

                       southwest from Jerusalem about 30 minutes before sunrise on September 29, 2003


Chart 333 below shows the constellation Hydra, the water serpent, looking east-southeast from Jerusalem about 30 minutes before sunrise on September 29, 2003.  As seen from Jerusalem, the serpent is rising out of the Dead Sea.  This event portrays what is written in Rev. 13:1 (Complete Jewish Bible) – “And I saw a beast come up out of the sea…”


Chart 333Hydra, the serpent, appearing to rise out of the Dead Sea as seen from Jerusalem about 30 minutes before sunrise on September 29, 2003


Again, this beast is the serpent’s seed (born of the serpent). 


It is not rare that these constellations portray the events of Revelation chapters 12 and 13.  This occurs every autumn.  The best time to view these constellations portraying these things is between late September and late October (during the fall feasts).  The constellations are in the same positions relative to the horizon a few minutes earlier each night.


This year there are no other significant celestial events (planetary alignments, eclipses, etc.) occurring simultaneously with these portrayals, other than the close approach of Mars (it is still very bright).  There is nothing notable to write of other than these for the months of September and October 2003.  I have written of these portrayals in other autumn issues of Biblical Astronomy (see the Sept. 1996 and Sept. 2000 issues of Biblical Astronomy) and thought it prudent to write of these things again here. 


Since these portrayals of Revelation 12 and 13 occur every autumn, it is most likely that this part of the Scriptures will come to pass and be fulfilled during the autumn (most likely during the fall feasts) of any given year.  


When the fall feast dates fall later in the autumn (late September to late October), then they occur at the same time that these portrayals are being shown.  In the past seven years, it seems that every time this happens that there is an escalation in violence from the enemy of Israel.  Such was the case in late September 1996 and late September 2000.   This was also the case in October 1973 when Israel was invaded in the Yom Kippur War.  This coming Yom Kippur will be the 30th anniversary of that event.   If there will be another escalation of violence against Israel during the fall feasts this year remains to be seen.  I pray not, but be alert.  This is something to be aware of.


The following is an excerpt from an article written by Joe Rao and posted on September 26 on


Sky Surprise: Seeking the Sixth Visible Planet 


Here is a trivia question: How many planets are visible without a telescope? Most people will answer "five" (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). But if you answered "six," congratulations, you can go to the head of the class!


That sixth world that can be spied without optical aid is the planet Uranus. This week will be a fine time to try and seek it out, especially since it is now favorably placed for viewing in our evening sky and the bright Moon is out of the way.


Of course, you’ll have to know exactly where to look. Barely visible by a keen naked eye on very dark, clear nights, Uranus -- currently shining at magnitude +5.7 -- is now visible during the evening hours among the stars of Aquarius, the Water Carrier. Conveniently, Mars serves as a great guidepost, being just below the more distant world in our sky.


Uranus is on average 1.785 billion miles (3.009 billion kilometers) from the Sun. Only Neptune and Pluto are farther away. With a diameter of about 32,000 miles (51,000 kilometers) the greenish world has a rotation period of 17.4 hours.


At last count, Uranus has 24 moons, all in orbits lying in the planet’s equator in which there is also a complex of nine narrow, nearly opaque rings, which were discovered in 1978.


Uranus likely has a rocky core, surrounded by a liquid mantle of water, methane, and ammonia, encased in an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium. A bizarre feature is how far over Uranus is tipped. Its north pole lies 98 degrees from being directly up and down to its orbit plane. Seasons are therefore extreme: when the Sun rises at Uranus' north pole, it stays up for 42 Earth years; then it sets and the north pole is in darkness for 42 Earth years.


The British astronomer Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus on March 13, 1781, noting that it was moving slowly through the constellation Gemini. Initially, however, Herschel thought he had discovered a new comet. Soon the name of Herschel became known over all of Europe together with the news of his discovery. King George III, who loved the sciences, had the astronomer presented to him and presented him with a life pension and a residence at Slough, in the neighborhood of Windsor Castle.


Eventually it was determined that Herschel’s "comet" was in fact, a new planet. For a while, it actually bore Herschel’s name. Herschel himself proposed the name Georgium Sidus – "The Star of George," after his benefactor. However, the custom for a mythological name ultimately prevailed and the new planet was finally christened Uranus.


Prior to its discovery, the outermost planet was considered to be Saturn, named for the ancient god of time and destiny, but Uranus was the father of Saturn and considered the most ancient deity of all.


It probably was for all for the best. After all, if Herschel’s request was granted, just think of how we might have listed the planets in order from the Sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and … George?