Biblical Astronomy

June 1999

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

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



The star Eta Carinae has recently become the focus of many puzzled astronomers recently as it is rapidly increasing its energy output. Below is a picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the twin-lobed cloud of gas and dust being ejected from the star.

The following is from a Sky and Telescope news release on June 3.

"Eta Carinae is Acting Up - "Life for people who study Eta Carinae got a whole lot more interesting a few short weeks ago when astronomer Kris Davidson (University of Minnesota) and his colleagues Theodore Gull (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) and Minnesota's Roberta Humphreys noticed that this massive star had gotten a whole lot brighter very fast. They alerted other observers, including a network of amateur astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere. The results of their observations were presented to the AAS meeting in a series of papers outlining the visual and spectroscopic changes that are transforming the face of Eta Carina for a second time in 130 years.

Eta Carinae is referred to as a luminous blue variable star. It dwarfs the Sun in every way: its 100 times more massive, it radiates five million times more power, and its stellar winds blow out from 100 to 1,000 times stronger that stars 30 to 40 times more massive than our star. It is expected to end its days as a supernova, or as some researcher now suspect, as a hypernova. Yet, Eta Carinae's suffocating double-lobed cloud have kept astronomers from seeing everything that happens to the star. Interestingly enough, that cloud is a relatively new phenomenon. In the 1840's, this supermassive giant star flared brightly and, over a 20 year period, blew off enough material to create three Suns. We see this eruption today as the nebula called the "Homunculus."

In order to understand why Eta Carinae seemed to be brightening again this year, Davidson and his colleagues turned the Hubble Space Telescope's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph to look at the star and the inner 0.5 arcsecond of the Homunculus where it is embedded. What they found is so strange that they're still trying to explain what's happening. It appears that a smaller double-lobed structure is growing within the larger pair of lobes. It is this inner set of cones that has tripled in brightness since April. According to Theodore Gull, the tremendous heat inside these cones may be responsible for the brightness. "some of the brightness we're seeing could be the result of ionization within the nebula," he said. "However, it is also possible that Eta Carinae is about to erupt again."

Astronomers are also trying to determine what spectra of the star actually show. What is so astounding is that Davidson and others who study luminous blue variables thought they had a good handle on how these stars work. "We basically understand how all naked-eye stars work," he said. "All except Eta Carinae. And now , we're stumped. This brightness increase was a complete surprise because we weren't expecting any major outburst for a few decades yet." The researchers were expecting a different kind of eruption and brightening from Eta Carinae. They thought the spectrum would shift from very hot emissions to lower temperature ones. The data released on Wednesday aren't playing along, leading Davidson and his colleagues to rethink their understanding of Eta Carinae and the unstable, violent and massive class of stars to which it belongs."

If this star goes hypernova, it very well could be bright enough to be seen in the daytime. It is too far south to be seen from Jerusalem. It is visible from southern Florida and Hawaii from January to April. An excellent place to observe this star from is New Zealand. If the star goes hypernova, it may be worth the investment to travel to a good observing spot. The last exceptionally bright supernova occurred in the constellation Ophiuchus in 1604 which was Kepler's Star. It may be some time before another one occurs.

This star (Eta Carinae) is in the constellation Carina which is a part of the ancient constellation Argo (the Ship). The constellation Carina makes up the keel of the ship, and Eta Carinae is in the aft part of the ship. The constellation Argo has references to Noah's Ark and is representative of a place of safety for God's people during a time of great trouble. The following is from E.W. Bullinger's, The Witness of the Stars, pp. 157, 158.

"This is the celebrated ship of the Argonauts, of which Homer sung nearly ten centuries be fore Christ. Sir Isaac Newton puts the expedition of the Argonauts shortly after the death of Solomon (about 975 B.C. Whatever fables have gathered round the story there can be no doubt as to its great antiquity. Some think that the story had its origin in name, as well as in fact, from the Ark of Noah and its mysterious journey. All that is clear, when divested of mythic details, is that the sailors in that ship, after all their dangers, and toils, and battles were over, came back victorious to their own shores. The "golden fleece," for which the Argonauts went in search, tells of a treasure that had been lost. "Jason," the great captain, tells of Him who recovered it from the Serpent, which guarded it with ever-watchful eye, when none else was able to approach it. And thus, through the fables and myths of the Greeks, we can see the light primeval shine; and this light, once seen, lights up this Sign and its constellations, so that their teaching cannot be misunderstood."

The name "Jason" is the Graeco-Judean equivalent of Joshua or Jesus. The word "Argo" means company of travelers. If you have E.W. Bullinger's The Witness of the Stars, I encourage you to read pages 157-161 for further insight.


There has been a lot of bull going around about a comet which was discovered in mid-April named Comet Lee. Much of the false hype on the comet came from the Art Bell Show and an internet club which calls themselves the Millennium Group. According to "scientists"(???) from the Millennium Group, the comet is on an erratic path and may pass discomfortingly close to Earth starting in mid-August, 1999 and continuing through early 2000. "At the very least," they say, "Comet Lee may cause solar explosions (CMEs) in our solar system, earthquakes, and hurricane-like weather on Earth. At the worst, well, Shoemaker-Levy's comet fragments crashing into Jupiter could be a pictorial warning for Earth if Comet Lee is captured in Earth-moon orbit." They go on to say a bit more, but it is all nonsense. They may as well be saying that Santa was seen riding on the comet's tail. After reading their report, I can assure you 100 percent, that the so called Millennium Group has 0 credibility. A firs year Astronomy student knows much ore that their so-called scientists. The following article is a response to the hogwash by Charles S. Morris, Comet Observation Home Page. I trust his opinion on such matters. Over the past three years there has been a lot of astronomical misinformation released by such programs as the Art Bell show, and various internet groups. So far, Charles S. Morris has been correct 100 percent of the time, Art Bell 0.

The Truth About Comet Lee - "There have been some wild statements made about Comet Lee [officially known as C/1999H1 (Lee)]. These are simply bogus, false statements by people who must have some agenda other that the truth. Given below is the truth...

* Comet Lee's orbit is not erratic. It is well-known. The comet will not hit the Earth or come any place close to it. This also means that debris or an asteroid associated with the comet could not endanger the Earth. Such "debris" would be left in the comet's orbit and would basically follow the orbit. If the comet's orbit doesn't intersect the Earth's orbit (and it doesn't), it is not possible for debris to it the Earth. The closest the comet will come to the Earth is about 77 million miles (the Sun is 93 million miles from the Earth) at the end of September 1999.

* Comet Lee (or any comet) will not cause coronal mass ejections. And Comet Lee's orbit is not affected by them.

* The comet is not expected to become bright. It is not abnormally bright nor is it brightening at an unusual rate. In fact, it is not expected to become a naked-eye object. It is currently near its peak brightness. [Someone has quoted the parameter "n", which indicates the rate of the comet's brightening with respect to its distance from the Sun, as being 5.4 for Comet Lee. This, they say, is evidence that my statement above is incorrect. The fact is that values of n typically range from 2.5 to 6 for long period comets. Some short period comets have much higher values. I stand by my statement that Comet Lee's brightness or variation in brightness is not unusual. I base this on 30-years of analyzing comet light curves.]"

Chart 99 shows the path of Comet Lee from late April to September 9, 1999. The grid is the orbital plane of the planets as they orbit the sun. The comet comes up from under the grid, and passes well over the top of it. The perpendicular tick mark on the orbital path of the comet (just above the word Mercury and the grid) is where the comet will be at its closest approach to the sun on July 11. It is at least 55 million miles from the sun at that point, nowhere close. In September, the comet will be well above and forward of the earth. The diameter of the comet's core is only about 1 mile. One analogy that I can think of that may relate is a person traveling down a highway in a van at 70 mph. A small shotgun pellet sized object traveling about the same speed crosses the highway about two miles in front of the van, and 5 miles above the highway. The object is also traveling at an upward angle. Would you think the passengers of the van to be in any danger for such a "near miss?" Would such a "near miss" cause the van to shake with all that electro plasma emanating from the pellet? If a comet of such size were to slam into the sun, it would be like a small pellet slamming into a 300 foot bowling balls with a surface temperature of 6,000 degrees. It would not cause mass solar ejections or any noticeable effects.


I have received many inquiries over the past 8 months on the article written on the Watchman Website titled "Revelation 12:1 - The Great Sign!" I am not trying to discredit the credibility of this website or its author, but this particular article has many fallacies. I have a link to this website on the Biblical Astronomy Website, and will not discontinue it, for it does have a lot of interesting information.

The author wrote in the article "Revelation 12:1 has fascinated Bible scholars for many years. A few years ago, I was examining the stars in heaven with an astronomy software program which allows me to simulate what the stars will look like at any day, at any time, and at any place. I set the date for Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets, September 12, 1999. I set the place to be Jerusalem, and I set the time to be just after sunset. The following picture was presented to me." See Chart 100.

"When I first saw the above picture, I immediately thought of the Revelation 12 sign. This celestial picture is for Yom Teruah, The Feast of Trumpets in 1999... This sign occur on Shabbat, the Sabbath ( Friday sundown to Saturday sundown)... The moon is poised in the "birth canal" of the virgin who is lying down with her feet in the air. The word "Bethulah: is in the location where her head should be... This particular positioning of the mazzaroth (constellation) Bethulah, the virgin about to give 'birth' to the moon (the Messiah), has never occurred before, and will never occur again, due to the precession of the equinoxes. Actually, if you believe that the earth is older that 26,000 years, then that is when this sign would have last occurred." The author goes on to say that it will not occur again for another 26,000 years. The author also states: "Please consider this paper as interesting speculation. Not as gospel truth." Though I have received many calls from those who consider this as gospel truth when they read it.

Some of the fallacies that I see with this report are:

* September 12 does not fall on the Sabbath, since September 12 in 1999 falls on Sunday. The sign is suppose to be seen after sundown on September 12, which makes it the beginning of the second day of the week.

* The moon is not located in the birth canal as stated, but on the inner thigh, just above the left knee. See picture of Virgo with constellation lines drawn over it on page following Chart 101. This picture has the anatomy in the correct places and agrees with all other pictures recent and ancient that I have seen on Bethulah (Virgo). The author of the paper went by the modern constellation lines given for the constellation , which were put into place in 1922 by the International Astronomical Union. I doubt that they had Biblical Astronomy in mind when they put these in place. The author has the head in the wrong place (I marked where he puts it on the picture). You need to hold the picture upside down to see its relationship to the charts. The star name for the crown marked on Chart 100 means the same in all languages (the Crown). This is where the head belongs.

* This sign, by the above author's given parameters, has been seen on a number of occasions over the last 600 years, or so, on Tishri 2, and will be seen on a number of occasions over the next millennium and a half. If the sun and moon have to be in the exact positions, this occurs about every 72 to 144 years. Through the precessional movement of the earth, the sun will be in the same Right Ascension coordinate at a given time (hour, minute and second) about every 72 years, one day later in the month than it was when it was previously there. Since the month of Tishri starts anywhere from early September to early October, there is a 2,150 year window of time for this sign to occur in the exact coordinates on numerous occasions on Tishri 2. Chart 101 shows the position of the sun and moon on October 1, 3412. They are in the same positions as Chart 100. Check it out with any astronomy program.