Biblical Astronomy

February/March 1998

Editor - Robert Scott Wadsworth <> P.O. Box 5772, Oregon City, OR 97045-8272

Phone (503) 655-7430 <> e-mail - <> website -



First, please forgive me for not getting the February and March newsletter to you until now. I have been in some affliction since the beginning of January. It started off with a family crisis (all is well now), and then an ice storm which knocked down lines for a week. The same day that I finally had the January newsletters printed up, I went to the hospital across the street from the printer's to have my leg looked at, since it was very swollen and in pain. It turned out that I had massive blood clots in my pulmonary artery from the back of my knee, up through my chest. I was hospitalized and the clots were stopped from going into my lungs and heart. The next day, which was my 50th birthday, I was also diagnosed as having Diabetes Type II. A few weeks later, shortly after the swelling in my leg had gone down, and as I was starting to feel much better, I came down with the worse flu that I have ever had. I couldn't eat for five days. The flu turned into bronchitis and after the bronchitis, I had a kidney infection. I stayed rather joyful throughout the above inflictions (except for the family crisis), and just gave it all to the Lord, who pulled me through everything. I am doing much better now, and even seem to have more energy than I had before the afflictions began. Praise the Lord! Thank you for your prayers and continued support.


From mid March to early April, the planets Mars (Michael), Mercury (Gabriel) and Saturn (Satan) will be massed in the constellation Pisces (refers to, or represents, the people of Israel - Witness of the Stars, pg. 96).

Chart 49 shows the massing of the planets, Sun and Moon on March 28, and Charts 50 and 51 show the massing on March 29, five minutes after sunset (Jerusalem Time) which is the beginning of Nisan 1, which ends at sunset on March 30. Chart 51 is shown in the planetarium mode. The dark area at the bottom of the chart is the horizon with due west in the center.

Most Jewish calendars in 1998 have Nisan 1 from sunset, March 27, to sunset, March 28. But as you can see on chart 49 that five minutes after sunset on March 28, the moon is 0% illuminated. The moon is also only 4 degrees above the horizon at this time and is setting. The first crescent light of the new moon will not be seen on this evening, nor on the previous evening, from Jerusalem. Chart 50 shows the moon five minutes after sunset on March 29, as being 3% illuminated and 18 degrees above the horizon. The first crescent light of the new moon will almost certainly be visible from Jerusalem on this evening, if there are clear skies.

The last time that Mars, Mercury and Saturn massed was on March 23, 1996, and they were also in Pisces at that time, though in the morning sky (see A Voice Crying in the Heavens, second edition, Chart 27 on page 104). Also at that time, the comet Hyakutake was nearing its closest approach to the earth which occurred on March 24/25, 1996.

Also massed with the planets, Sun and Moon on March 28 and 29, 1998 is the comet Temple/Tuttle designated as 55P on Charts 49 and 50. Comet Temple/Tuttle has a 33 year orbital period and had its closest approach to the earth on January 17, 1998 at 33 million miles. At that time the comet was not visible to the naked eye and reached a peak magnitude of 7.5. On March 28/29 the comet will be about 185 million miles from the earth. It is the debris that Comet Temple/Tuttle leaves behind that is responsible for the yearly Leonids meteor shower which peaks every November 17/18. The meteors radiate from the head of the Lion (Leo). Every 33 years, within one or two years from the comet's closest approach to the earth, there is the possibility of a meteor storm, in which meteors are seen falling at the rate of hundreds per second. There is a strong possibility that such a storm will occur on November 17, 1998 or on November 17, 1999 (see A Voice Crying in the Heavens, second edition, p. 99).

The constellations are also giving some interesting portrayals from mid March to mid April during the Spring feasts (Abib 1, Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread) which are similar to the portrayals they give in September and October, during the Autumn feasts (Day of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles). In the Autumn, these are seen in the morning sky shortly before sunrise, and in the Spring they are seen in the evening sky shortly after sunset. Chart 51 shows the constellation Cetus (the beast from the sea) just south of west standing on the horizon shortly after sunset on March 29. From Jerusalem, the beast from the sea or Dragon would appear to be standing on the Mediterranean Sea. Chart 52 shows the constellation Hydra (the water serpent or another beast from the sea) on the east-southeast horizon shortly after sunset on March 29. From Jerusalem, the serpent would appear to be rising up out of the Dead Sea. Chart 53 shows the constellation Draco (the Dragon) on the northern horizon shortly after sunset on March 29. The Dragon's head is seen here below the horizon. Chart 54 shows the constellation Draco about 3 hours after sunset. The Dragon is seen ascending into the heavens tail first. This is different from what is seen in the Autumn, when the Dragon is seen descending to the earth and is portrayed as being cast down to the earth (see the September, 1996 issue of Biblical Astronomy). But, Revelation 13:1 is still portrayed by the constellations Cetus and Hydra in March and April, though Revelation 12:9 is not portrayed by the constellation Draco at this time.

Revelation 13:1 (NIV) - And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea...

KJV has "and saw a beast rise up out of the sea...

Mars (Michael) and Saturn (Satan) will be at conjunction in Pisces on April 3.


The new moon most certainly plays an important role in God's appointed feast dates and times and seasons, since it is the visible new moon that regulates when months begin and which days that God's appointed feast dates are to be held. The first day of the first month Abib (Nisan) is especially important since it is the first day of a new biblical year and sets the time of the Spring feast dates (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost).

It was the first day of the first month that the waters were dried up from off the earth after the great flood and Noah removed the covering of the ark (Gen. 8:13). It was on the first day of the first month that Moses set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation and put the ark of the testimony therein and covered the ark with the vail (Exodus 40:2,3 & 17-19). The first day of the first month has a lot to do with sanctification. See II Chronicles 29:17 (or whole chapter), and Ezekiel 45:16-19 for a few examples.

There are also occasions throughout the Old Testament that God spoke to His prophets, or/and, His prophets spoke to His people and gave them instruction on the first day of the month or the new moon. Some examples are Ezekiel 26:1, 29:17, 31:1, 32:1 and Haggai 1:1.

During the Millennial Kingdom, new moons will be times of worship.

Ezekiel 46:3 - Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the Lord in the sabbaths and in the new moons.

Isaiah 66:23 - And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.


As most of you have probably already heard, there was much concern over the trajectory of a recently discovered one-mile wide asteroid as coming dangerously close to colliding with Earth in the year 2028. Though it will take another three to four years before the most accurate calculations can be made on the asteroid's orbital path (more or less some fine tuning), it is now calculated that the asteroid will miss the earth by hundreds of thousands of miles, unless there are unseen elements which may cause perturbations. The orbital calculations and simulation of the asteroid is not yet available for the Dance of the Planets program, but should be soon. I plan to spend some time investigating the asteroid's orbital path as soon as it is available.

The following is from a press information sheet produced at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"Recent orbit computations on an asteroid discovered last December indicated that it was virtually certain that it would pass within the moon's distance of the earth a little more than 30 years from now. Refined computations, based on prediscovery images from 1990, show that the miss distance is now a rather comfortable 600 thousand miles.

The asteroid, known as 1997 XF11, was discovered by Jim Scotti in the course of the Spacewatch program at the University of Arizona. This program utilizes modern technology on a 36-inch telescope at Kitt Peak that was built 77 years ago.

After the discovery observations on December 6, observations made by two Japanese amateur astronomers during the following two weeks showed that the minimum distance between the orbits of 1997 XF11 and the earth was very small. Given also that the object is quite large as earth-approaching asteroids go, perhaps one mile across, it was added to the list of "potentially hazardous asteroids" (PHAs) that need to be monitored, lest they are destined to come dangerously close to the earth over the course of the next several centuries. There are currently 108 PHAs.

As astronomers continued to gather data on 1997 XF11, it slowly began to become apparent that there would be a particularly close approach to the earth in October, 2028. A computation from observations spanning 60 days suggested that the miss distance would be 500 thousand miles. This distance may seem large in human terms, but it was less than had previously been predicted in advance for any other known asteroid during the foreseeable future.

Observations made on March 3 and 4 by Peter Shelus with a 30-inch telescope at the McDonald Observatory in western Texas extended the observed arc of 1997 XF11 to 88 days. This time, the orbit computation indicated a mass distance of only 30 thousand miles from the center of the earth; the earth's radius is about 4 thousand miles. The time of encounter would be around 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, October 26, 2028.

There was still some uncertainty to the computation. On the one hand, it was possible that 1997 XF11 would come scarcely closer than the moon. On the other hand, the object could come significantly closer than 30 thousand miles. Further observations were necessary in order to refine the figures. It was also possible that prediscovery observations of 1997 XF11 could be located on archival photographs. Pre-discovery images of 1997 XF11 were located by Ken Lawrence (JPL) on films taken at Palomar in 1990 during the Planet-Crossing Asteroid Survey by Eleanor Helen, Lawrence and Brian Roman using the 0.46-m Schmidt. The observations, on 1990 Mar. 22 and 23 were consistent with each other and allowed a much improved orbit to be derived for 1997 XF11. These latest computations show that the nominal miss distance will be 600 thousand miles on 2028 Oct. 26 around 2:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Although the chances for an actual collision with earth in 2028 can now be discounted, the orbit of 1997 XF11 will continue to come close to the orbit of the earth for the foreseeable future.

The predicted 2028 approach distance of 600 thousand miles will be the closest predicted PHA up to that time. In 2086 the substantially smaller asteroid (2340) Hathor will come to a distance of 550 thousand miles from the earth."