Editor - Robert Scott Wadsworth <> P.O. Box 5772, Oregon City, OR 97045-8272
Phone (503) 655-7430 <> e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org <> website - www.atlbible.org/astronomy.htm
PASCHAL BLUE MOON?
I have had more than a few calls this month concerning the two blue moons this year; one in January, and one on March 31, which is the start of Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread at sunset according to the popular Jewish Calendar. The Blue Moon, which in its current definition is two full moons in one month, has nothing to do with anything in biblical interpretation. It is something simply made up by man and only exists with the Gregorian calendar. You will never see two full moons in one month on the Hebrew calendar. Furthermore, the current definition has only been around for about 62 years. It's beginnings can be traced back to the 1937 Maine Farmer's Almanac, and nothing before then.
The term "blue moon" has been around well over 400 years, according to Philip Hiscock from Sky and Telescope, "but its calendrical meaning has become widespread only in the last 20 years. In fact, the very earliest uses of the term were remarkably like saying the Moon is made of green cheese. Both were obvious absurdities, about which there could be no doubt. 'He would argue that the Moon was blue' was taken by the average person of the 16th century as we take 'He'd argue that black is white.'
The concept that a blue Moon was absurd (the first meaning) led eventually to a second meaning, that of 'never.' The statement 'I'll marry you, m'lady, when the Moon is blue!' would not have been taken as a betrothal in the 18th century.
But there are also historical examples of the Moon actually turning blue... When the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded in 1883, its dust turned sunsets green and the Moon blue all around the world for the best part of two years. In 1927, the Indian monsoons were late arriving and the extra-long dry season blew up enough dust for a blue Moon. And Moons in northeastern North America turned blue in 1951 when huge forest fires in western Canada threw smoke particles up into the sky.
So, by the mid-19th century, it was clear that visibly blue Moons, though rare, did happen from time to time -- whence the phrase 'once in a blue Moon.' It meant exactly what it means today, a fairly infrequent event, not regular enough to pinpoint."
This is more a figure of speech than an astronomical event.
CELESTIAL EVENTS FOR MARCH/APRIL
Venus and Saturn come into conjunction on March 20 (Chart 90). At this time, Venus will be within the borders of Aries, Saturn within the borders of Pisces, and the crescent moon in the head of Cetus, the beast from the sea. The actual conjunction of Venus and Saturn will occur about four hours before the sun reaches the Vernal Equinox coordinates.
Saturn will leave Pisces and enter Aries on March 31/April 1. Saturn has been in the constellation Pisces (the nation of Israel) for over three years in which time there have been many rare and extraordinary celestial events. It is interesting that Saturn will leave Pisces and enter Aries (which represents "The blessings of the redeemed consummated and enjoyed") on the eve of or on the Passover. Saturn will not return to Pisces again for about another 27 years.
Another interesting event that is occurring on the Passover and First Day of Unleavened Bread (sunset April 1, to sunset April 2, according to when the first crescent light of the new moon was visible from Jerusalem) is the conjunction of the Sun and Jupiter (the King of Righteousness) in Pisces At that time, Jupiter will be at its furthest distance from the Earth for the year.
DISAPPEARANCE OF SOUTHERN CROSS
One popular question that comes up from time to time is when the Southern Cross disappeared from Jerusalem. Most books that I have seen on the subject state that the Southern Cross (Crux) disappeared from Jerusalem skies around the time of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. I spent a good amount of time this month in research on this subject, and here are the results.
The following are excerpts from Joseph A. Seiss' The Gospel in the Stars, concerning the Crux.
"Strikingly enough we have come upon a figure stationed in the darkest section of the heavens, in the very lowest part of the sphere, and outlined by the stars themselves so as to be readily recognized by every beholder -- a figure of the shameful instrument on which the blessed Saviour died, even the Cross. Our latitude is too far to the northward for this constellation to be visible to us, but it is clear, distinct, and specially noticeable to those dwelling near or south of the equator...
Formerly this constellation was visible in our latitudes; but in the gradual shifting of the heavens it has long since sunk away to the southward. It was last seen in the horizon of Jerusalem about the time that Christ was crucified. It consists of four bright stars placed in the form of a cross, and is by far the most conspicuous star-group in the southern heavens. Standing directly in the path of the second Decan of Virgo, the double-natured Seed of the woman, and connecting with Libra and the price of redemption, it takes the same place in the celestial symbology which the Cross of Calvary holds in the Christian system...
Aben Ezra gives its Hebrew name, Adom, which means cutting off, as the angel told Daniel of the cutting off of the Messiah. And Christ was cut off by being condemned and crucified."
One factor determining the time that the Southern Cross disappeared from Jerusalem, is atmospheric haze. The brightness of stars diminish greatly as they approach close to the horizon. This is due to atmospheric haze which is mostly caused by a thickening of the atmosphere at lower altitudes. When looking directly overhead into the sky, the atmosphere gradually becomes thinner and the view is clear in comparison to looking towards the horizon where the atmosphere is thick all the way across (thickness upon thickness). Certain pollutants (man-made and natural) contribute further to atmospheric haze. The area in which stars are not visible because of atmospheric haze is between 5 and 6 degrees above the horizon. This may vary a little depending on the brightness of the celestial object. The sun is bright enough to be seen on the horizon, but note that it appears much dimmer and is at times easy on the eyes to look upon, during its rising and settings. Taking this into consideration, we can better determine when certain stars of the Southern Cross became invisible from Jerusalem. Chart 91 shows the highest position of the Southern Cross as seen from Jerusalem in 1000 B.C. At this time, the upper star of the Crux was 17 degrees above the horizon, and the lower star 11 degrees above the horizon. The whole cross was quit visible from Jerusalem around the time of King David.
Chart 92 shows the highest position of the Southern Cross as seen from Jerusalem on April 28, 28 A.D. or the date of the Lord's crucifixion. The upper star of the Crux was a little over 12 degrees above the horizon, and the lower star was a little over 6 degrees above the horizon. It is most difficult to say if the lower star was visible through atmospheric haze at that time. But it is safe to say that the lower star most likely disappeared from the Jerusalem skies some time between the time of the Lord's crucifixion and 155 A.D., when it was 5 degrees above the horizon at its highest position. Chart 93 shows the highest position of the Southern Cross in the year 1000 A.D. Here the upper star is about 6 degrees above the horizon, and the lower star is near 0 degrees. The upper star most likely disappeared from the Jerusalem skies sometime between this date and 1240 A.D., when the upper star was 5 degrees above the horizon at its highest point. This was during the time of the Crusades.
The Crux will not be visible again from Jerusalem until about the year 11000, unless there is a major shift in the earth's axis.
LATEST MID-EAST NEWS
March 22 - news release from Arutz-7 - Arafat: We're Ready to Fight -- The Israel Government Press Office reports that threats of violence against Israel continue to be expressed by top Palestinian Authority figures. "We carried out the longest intifada in history," said Arafat this past Thursday, speaking of 3,000 Fatah members at a Ramallah ceremony marking 31 years since Israeli forces clashed with Jordanian soldiers defending the PLO terrorist base in Karameh, Jordan. Arafat continued, "[The Israelis] should know that we can start it again if they try to prevent us from exercising our rights... We, the Fatah and the PLO, are ready to fight a new battle of Karameh every single day if anyone tries to stop us from exercising our rights, particularly that of proclaiming an independent state."
Only a few days earlier, PA "Minister" for Jerusalem Affairs Feisal Husseini said, "The battle for Jerusalem is near. It requires determination and it carries a heavy responsibility, for it is the key to war and peace." He was speaking at a conference of the Fatah Youth Organization in Al-Bireh, north of Jerusalem. The Israel Government Press Office contrasts these and other statements to the Wye River memorandum, according to which the PA is required to "take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against the Israeli side... and to prevent incitement."
MEMRI [Middle East Media and Research Institute] reports that the Commissioner of the PA's Political Guidance Directorate, Othman Abu Gharbiyya, told "mothers of martyrs" in Gaza last week, "Peace is a higher humane value and a noble goal, but freedom and honor precede peace. There cannot be peace without independence, without freedom, and without honor. There can also be no peace without Jerusalem becoming the capital of our state..." Rasha Fatuh, Head of the Directorate's Youth Department stated: "We promise our heroes and all the faithful warriors that we will continue to march with a loyal word and a brave gunshot until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine. For the sake of the Palestinian homeland we wave the flags of victory and chant in a loud voice: 'the soul and the blood we will give to thee, oh martyr, the soul and the blood we will give for thee, oh Palestine.'" Both quotes are from the March 20 edition of the PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda.
March 25 - news release from Yahoo - Canada: Palestinian State Can't Wait Forever -- Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, in an apparent hardening of Canada's position, told Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Wednesday that Israel could not delay forever before agreeing to a Palestinian state, Reuters reported. "We believe that through the negotiations we should resolve the creation of the state for the Palestinians," Chretien told a joint news conference with Arafat after 2-1/2 hours of talks.
March 25 - news release from Yahoo - Arafat Seeks State Clarification; New Dateline? - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has asked the United States to submit a formal proposal for postponing a Palestinian declaration of statehood and setting a new deadline for a final peace agreement with Israel, a senior PLO official said. The Maariv daily said today that Clinton would write a letter to Arafat soon and propose to extend the Palestinian Period of autonomy for a year, to May 2000. This would also become the new deadline for a final peace accord with Israel, the paper said.
The five-year period of the Palestinian autonomy expires May 4. Arafat initially said he would declare a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on that day, but appears to be backing off under pressure from the United States, Europe, Egypt and Jordan. It Tuesday's meeting, "President Clinton asked President Arafat not to declare a state on May 4," Abdel Rahman said in a telephone interview. Arafat did not let on whether he would agree to Clintons demand, Abdel Rahman said.
March 25 - news release from Yahoo -
EU Supports Palestinian Statehood??? -- EU foreign ministers Thursday approved the text of declaration that would signal the EU's strongest support to date for the Palestinians' right to declare their own state, AP reported. Officials attending an EU summit said if EU leaders approved the text, the declaration would be released at the end of the two-day EU summit, expected to finish early Friday morning. They spoke on condition of anonymity. The text says the Palestinians have an unqualified right to self-determination, including the option of a state, and adds that the 15-nation Union looks forward to the early fulfillment of that right.
March 25 - news release from Yahoo - Netanyahu Denounces any Declaration of Palestinian State - In anticipation of the EU move, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement denouncing any declaration that favors creation of a Palestinian state, AP reported. "Such a state would be able to raise a large army, use it without limitations, forge alliances with regimes that aim to destroy Israel, and serve as a base of increased terrorism against Israel, and in that way threaten its existence," the statement said.
A draft of the EU declaration says the EU is convinced the creation of a democratic, viable and peaceful sovereign Palestinian state through negotiations would best guarantee Israeli security. It adds that the EU is ready to consider recognition of a Palestinian state in due course. Netanyahu has warned that he would annex parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in response to a unilateral declaration of statehood by Arafat.
March 26 - news release from Yahoo - EU Calls for Palestinian State Within One Year -- This morning, 15 leaders of the European Union signed an expected proclamation calling for the establishment of an independent democratic Palestinian state within one year. Contradicting Israeli statements, the EU insisted that a democratic Palestinian state in the region, one that supports peace, is the best security for peace in the area, especially for Israel (Do they think we are that stupid or naive? They certainly know that the PLO does not support peace and displays quite a strange form of democracy. What are they up to? - comment mine). The key paragraph said EU countries "reaffirm the continuing and unqualified Palestinian right to self-determination including the option of a state; look forward to the early fulfillment of this right; appeal to the parties to strive in good faith for a negotiated solution on the basis of this right, which is not subject to any veto."
The EU "expresses its conviction that the creation of a democratic, viable and peaceful sovereign Palestinian state on the basis of existing agreements and through negotiations would be the best guarantee of Israel's security and Israel's acceptance as an equal partner in the region," it said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated on Thursday that the question is not how we will live here, but "if we will live here. The prime minister added the establishment of a Palestinian state would serve as a base for the implementation of terror attack -- the like of which has never been seen before in the area. Mr. Netanyahu added that an independent state would permit the PLO Authority to amass weaponry and if it wished, to even bring soldiers from Iran and/or Iraq, to be used against Israel.
The following is part of an editorial by Elyakim Ha'etzni from an Aruz Sheva Israel National Broadcast on March 29, 1999 on HOSTILE MEDIA AGAINST SERBIA.
WE'RE IN THE SAME BOAT
It is certainly unnecessary to explain to the listeners of Arutz-7 all the "hostile media." But did you ever realize that there is another group suffering from similarly hostile media? The Serbs, for example?
Without condoning the terrible war crimes no doubt committed by the Serbs, we and they basically find ourselves in the same boat. The world press under-states each of our respective sides, while it embellishes the Arab-Moslem case, and sweeps under the carpet its faults, crimes, and inherent dangers. Both the Serbs and the Israelis are given to American-European pressure on behalf of the Moslems. We were forced in Wye Plantation to give over portions of our homeland to the Arabs, and the Serbs are being forced right now to hand over a sovereign region of theirs, Kosovo, to the Moslem Albanians. The Serbs, in fact, call Kosovo their "Jerusalem" - would it be that we would learn from them how to stand fast in conviction and determination and strength when the time comes for us to fight for Jerusalem.
EVEN IF THEY ALL DIE
The Serbs lost their holy Kosovo to the Turks 600 years ago, and have dreamt and sung about it ever since then. They have woven their national identity around Kosovo. We have pined for Zion and Jerusalem more than three times as long, and with it all, tell me if there is one politician amongst us who would say about Jerusalem what Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Draskovitch said about Kosovo. Draskovitch, it should be noted, does not agree with his Prime Minister, but he and the entire Serbian nation are united around the Kosovo issue. Draskovitch said: "Our faith was born there, as was our language, our nationhood, our pride. It is incumbent upon us to defend Kosovo even if we all die." An American reporter asked him if he does not want his hungry country to become part of the West and to share in its wealth. He answered, "Not if the price is Kosovo."
THE SERBS FOUGHT THE NAZIS
The hostile press does not tell us who the Serbs really are. From amongst all the Yugoslavian peoples, they bore the main brunt of the fight against the Nazis in World War II. The Croatians established a Nazi state, and murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs and tens of thousands of Jews. Jews and Serbs are buried together in the Yasenovatz destruction camp. From within Muslim Bosnia, with inciteful encouragement by the Mufti of Jerusalem, a Jew-killing SS Division arose. The Serbs kept dozens of German divisions occupied in battle, and caused them great losses. Serbia was the only country in Europe that threw off the German conquest on its own, paying a terrible price along the way: 1,700,000 dead - 11% of its total population. The partisan army numbered a quarter of a million, including many Jews, and it saved thousands of Jews. How could Clinton possibly think that a people who went through all of this would surrender to an air attack of the type of which Saddam Hussein made a mockery?
The hostile media hide from the public the fact that "ethnic purifications" have taken place all over Yugoslavia. The Croatians expelled 200,000 Serbs from the Krajna district. From Kosovo itself, the Moslems - beginning the moment they received autonomy there in 1994 - pushed out a half-million Serbs, while 400,000 Albanians spilled over the border, turning the Serbs into a 10% minority in their own homeland.
What are the Serbs fighting about? Milosevich agreed to restore the autonomy to the Moslems. He merely refused the NATO demand to bring in 30,000 foreign troops to his country. What self-respecting country would have accepted such a dictate? Clinton had great difficulty explaining why he attacked a sovereign country simply because of an internal dispute within its own borders. The situation there is not at all the same as Iraq's attempt to wipe out a foreign country. If the present attack is justified, why didn't NATO intervene in China against the oppression of Tibetans? What about when Sudan slaughtered 2.5 million Christian blacks in Khartoum? Why doesn't NATO force its member state Turkey to give to the Kurds what it demands for the Kosovo Albanians? These are merely a few of the many similar examples all over the globe.
...Israel's media are acting as if this has nothing to do with us. The contrary appears to be true: just as the press here is against us and in favor of Arafat, it is also in favor of the Moslems in Yugoslavia. At the behest of Yossi Sarid of Meretz, our left-wing government of a few years ago sent humanitarian aid to the Bosnians, of all people, and even absorbed Bosnian refugees. We, the listeners of Arutz-7, are in favor of the Jews! We will be alert and attentative to what is happening in Kosovo, as it may be a general rehearsal for what could happen here if we don't give the Palestinian terrorists a state with Jerusalem as its capital.