Biblical Astronomy

November 2006


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 October 2006 and the beginning of the Eighth Biblical Month.


“On Monday October 23, 2006 observers from Israel looked for the New Moon but it was not sighted due to clouds.  Visibility was considered doubtful even under ideal weather conditions.  New Moon day will begin tomorrow night (Tuesday Oct. 24).


On Tuesday October 24, 2006 the New Moon was sighted from Israel.  The moon was first sighted from the southern Negev by Roy Hoffman at 16:50, by Yoni Hoffman at 16:51, and by Akiva Hoffman at 16:54.  the moon was also sighted from Ashdod by Magdi Shamual at 17:04.  the moon was not sighted from Jerusalem due to clouds.”


As I mentioned in last month’s newsletter, I thought that there might have been a possibility that the crescent new moon might be visible on October 23.  Though it was low on the horizon, it had pretty good illumination.  When the moon is illuminated to the same degree as it was on October 23 it is usually visible when the moon is 7 degrees above the horizon at five minutes after sunset. However, the moon was only 4 degrees above the horizon at five minutes after sunset on October 23. 


I am thankful that Roy Hoffman of the New Moon Society, Jerusalem Israel, set out on a mission with his family to Mt. Hezkiyahu in the southern Negev, one of the best places in Israel to observe the moon, to see if it would be visible on October 23.  Below is part of Roy’s report.


“According to prediction, the Moon was not expected to be visible on Monday 23rd October 2006 from Israel because the Moon was too low on the horizon. In astronomical terms the sky was not dark enough before the Moon set. As a measure of the sky’s darkness, we are accustomed to use the altitude difference between the Sun and the Moon, lag time (time between sunset and moonset) and arc of sight (that is in degrees the lag time in minutes divided by four). The measure of lag time and arc of sight are also dependent on geographic latitude but as long as this is within certain limits (29° to 35° for Israel) these measures are reliable. 


Even so, we were not certain about our predictions because most of the Moon-watching effort has gone into young Moons and not older Moons with shorter lag times. Therefore records of such observations are sparse. For this reason we (I and three of my children) traveled 300 km to Mt. Hezkiyahu in the South of Israel to check if despite everything it was possible to see the Moon. 


Mt. Hezkiyahu is one of the best if not the best place in Israel to observe the Moon because of the dry climate lacking pollution and high up. Also the fact that it is further south is usually a geometric advantage. Mt. Hezkiyahu is at latitude 29° 38’ 37” N, longitude 34° 52’ 42” E and height 833 m. For this observation the altitude difference (0.6 of the lag time after sunset) was 6° 15’, the lag time was 29 m 52 s and the arc of vision (20 minutes after sunset) was 7° 28’. The record for a naked eye observation in Israel is altitude difference 6° 38’, lag time 31 m 12 s and arc of vision 7° 48’ and in that case the Moon was further separated from the Sun. That observation was by David Balhassan from Talme Eliyahu (31° 14’ N, 34° 26’ E, 140 m) on 1st October 1989.”


You can view the full report in Hebrew or English with pictures at


It is expected that the next new moon will be visible from Jerusalem near sunset on November 22, 2006 (Thanksgiving Eve).  This will be the beginning of the Ninth Month on the Biblical Calendar and the Hebrew month of Chislev.




The planet Mercury (Catab) will transit (pass in front of) the sun on November 8, 2006.  This can be viewed in its entirety from the west coast of the United States where it starts at around 11:12 am PST and ends around 4:10 pm PST.  The later part of the transit will not be visible from the east coast since the sun will be set below the horizon during the final hours of the transit as viewed from the Eastern Time Zone. 


Do not try to view the transit without the proper eye protection since looking directly into the sun can cause permanent eye damage.


Below is a simulation of the transit and shows the path of Mercury across the sun during the transit.



The following is from Norton’s Star Atlas concerning transits of Mercury.


“If its orbit were exactly in the plane of the ecliptic, Mercury would transit (pass in front of) the Sun once in each synodic revolution.  But since its orbit is inclined 7O to the ecliptic, the planet usually passes above or below the Sun as seen from the Earth.  A transit occurs only when Mercury is near one of its nodes at inferior conjunction.  The ascending node corresponds to the position of the Earth on November 10, the descending node to the position on May 8.  If inferior conjunction falls near one of these dates, Mercury will be seen as a tiny black spot, 10 – 12 arcsec wide, moving slowly across the face of the Sun.


November transits are more common, repeating at intervals of 7, 13 and 46 years, according to the circumstances.  May transits recur at intervals of 13 and 46 years.  Some previous transits occurred on November 6, 1993; November 15, 1999 with the last one on May 7, 2003.  After the November 8, 2006 event, the next one will occur on May 9, 2016; and then on November 11, 2019 and November 13, 2032.  The length of the chord traversed by the planet in its passage across the Sun’s disk determines the duration of a transit which can last for up to 9 hours.”


Chart 424 shows the position of the Sun and Mercury in the constellation Libra at the time of mid transit.  The small white dot in the center-bottom of Sun is Mercury.  Libra represents the Price the Messiah Yeshua paid for our salvation, THE PRICE WHICH COVERS.


Chart 424 – Position of the Sun and Mercury in Libra at mid transit on Nov. 8, 2006


One of the representations of the planet Mercury (Catab) is of the messenger angel Gabriel (Mars represents the warrior angel Michael, not Mercury as some suggest).  The only Biblical meaning or portrayal that I can perceive of this event is from Revelation 19:17 –


 “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of the kings, the flesh of the captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great”


This is part of a huge clean-up and cleansing process after the armies of the beast are defeated and slain.




Well, I hemmed and hawed last month whether to do an article on Comet Swan in the Sept/Oct issue of Biblical Astronomy.  I decided not to because it was not expected to be bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.  However, in late October the comet had an outburst and brightened to a dim naked eye comet. 


Chart 425 shows the path of Comet Swan from October 15 to November 15, 2006 as it started under the arm of Bootes (He cometh) and passed through the center of Hercules (Bau) also the one who cometh to destroy the evil one.  The blue line is the path of the comet.  The comet was in the heel of Hercules when it went into outburst and quadrupled in brightness.


The comet was discovered on June 20, 2006 by R. D. Matson (Irvine, CA), M. Mattiazzo (Adelaide, S. Australia) and also by the SWAN (Solar Wind ANisotropies) instrument aboard the SOHO (SOlar Heliospheric Observatory) satellite.  This is the eighth comet discovered with this instrument.


Below is a picture of Comet Swan (C/2006M4) taken by Michael Jager and Gerald Rhemonn on September 30, 2006.



The following is a Sky & Telescope webpage article on the comet written by Alan MacRobert on October 30, 2006.


“After spending weeks as a nice, sedate little binocular comet, Comet SWAN (a.k.a. C/2006 M4) unexpectedly quadrupled in brightness last week, flaring from 6th magnitude to about 4½ as seen in binoculars. Telescopes at high power showed streamers in the inner coma near the nucleus. Observers with dark skies even spotted it (dimly) with their unaided eyes. But now (Monday the 30th) it may be fading back a bit.


An alert from the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams noted that as of October 23.75 Universal Time, binocular observers reported the comet glowing at magnitude 5.9, but about 24 hours later it was variously being called 4.4 and 4.5 in 7x50 binoculars and 4.0 and 4.3 to the naked eye.

At high magnification there was more going on. Imagers F. Montanucci, G. Sostero and E. Guido in Italy wrote, "The inner coma of this comet is showing a remarkable evolution. The visibility of several jets is strengthened (one obvious feature points toward SE). The central condensation shows a very odd, 'peanut-like' shape. Several streamers point to the ion tail."


On Thursday the 26th, I swept up the comet immediately with an 8x50 finderscope despite suburban light pollution. The comet was a round, very condensed (centrally concentrated) greenish fuzzball with hints of a long, straight, upward-pointing tail. The comet's head was much brighter than the globular cluster M13 nearby. In my 12.5-inch reflector at 75x, the nucleus was very bright, but I saw no streamers. The outer coma practically filled the ¾° field of view with a greenish glow. (I didn't switch to higher power because a crowd of visitors were waiting in line for a view!)


To find the comet, you'll need to know exactly where to look. Comet SWAN is currently in Hercules, as indicated on the chart above. Note that the dates on the chart are for 0:00 Universal time, which falls on the evening of the previous date in the Americas. On the evening of Monday the 30th the comet goes quite close to Epsilon Herculis, the southeast corner of the Hercules Keystone.


If you don't know where Hercules is, use the big evening constellation maps in Sky & Telescope or Night Sky, or the smaller versions here online.


Light from the waxing Moon is now affecting the view. First quarter Moon was on October 29th, and the Moon is full on November 5th. On November 8th we'll again start getting moonless periods after the end of twilight, but by then the comet should be fading.


According to the best predictions, that is. Who knows? “


ATTENTION:  The drawing of Ara in this article will be the last picture from Michele Abraham for some time to come. Michele is going through some difficulties and no longer has a computer or access to a computer to put her drawings in a digital format to send to me.  Please pray for her and her family.

This will push the publication of the third edition of A Voice Crying in the Heavens further into the future.  I do not have the funds to remedy this situation at this time.  I will continue to do the newsletters but they will be missing Michele’s drawings which I believe greatly enhance this publication.






Ara (the Altar)


Consuming fire prepared for his enemies


Decan constellation of the Sign Sagittarius (Kesith).


Ancient Names for this constellation


Al Mugamra (Arab.) – the completing, or finishing.


Al Mijmarah (Arab.) – a Censer (for burning incense).


Thusiasterion (Gr.) – altar in the sense of imprecation or cursing.


Ara (Lat.) – altar in the same sense as the Greek.


Complementing scriptures to this constellation picture


Psalm 21:9 – “Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of Thine anger: The LORD shall swallow them up in His wrath; And the fire shall devour them.”  This completes the Psalm complementing the Sign Sagittarius and its decan constellations.  Part of the Psalm is used as the complementing scripture to the constellation Lyra, another decan constellation of Sagittarius, in the August 2006 issue of Biblical Astronomy.


Revelation 8:1-11 (NKJV) – “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.  And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.  Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar.  He was given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.  Then the angel took the censer, filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth.  And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.


So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.


The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed; mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth.  And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.


Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.  And a third of the living creatures in the seas died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.


Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.  The name of the star is Wormwood.  A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.”


Stars in Ara


The names of the stars in Ara have been lost to antiquity.  This constellation consists of an asterism of nine stars.  Three stars are of the 3rd magnitude and four of the 4th magnitude, etc.  That this constellation is an asterism of 9 stars is interesting considering that the number 9 in its Biblical meaning represents finality or judgment (see E.W. Bullinger’s Number in Scripture, p.235 - hardcover edition).


The following is from Joseph Seiss’ The Gospel in the Stars, pp. 56-57 concerning Ara.


“It is the sign of the Serpent ruled, the Enemy destroyed, the triumphant fulfillment of the sublimest of hopes and sacred promises.


Still further is this signified in the second Decan, which the Arabs call Al Mugamra, the completing, the finishing, the making of an end of what was undertaken.  The Hebrew uses elements of the same word where it is said “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me” (Ps. 138:8).  The Greeks called it Ara, a word which the Latins used to denote a small elevation of wood, stone, or earth made for sacred purposes, particularly for sacrifices; hence an altar, and also a funeral-pile, whence we have in our charts the figure of and altar covered with burning fire to denote this constellation.  The Greeks used the word ara sometimes in the sense of prayer, but more frequently in the sense of an imprecation, a curse, or the effect of a cursebane, ruin, destruction.  Personified, it was the name of the goddess of revenge and destruction.  In AEschylus it is the name of the actual curse of CEdipus personified.  It connects directly with the Hebrew mara and aram, which mean a curse, utter destruction.


In the latitudes in which these constellations were originally formed Ara was on the lowest horizon of the south.  The regions beyond this were contemplated as the lower regions, the under-world, the regions of darkness, “outer darkness;” just as the regions toward the north pole are contemplated as the upper regions of light and heaven.  And, singularly enough, these ara-fires burn downward, toward the dark and hidden abyss, toward the covered and invisible south pole.  The whole significance of the name and figure thus connects with the ultimate perdition, the completed curse, the sending into “the lake of fire.””