Many Bible verses refer to signs in the heavens. For example,
- Joel 2:31 - The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come
- Acts 2:20 - The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come
- Rev 6:12 - And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sack-cloth of hair, and the moon became as blood
- Since the Creation, God made the sun and the moon "for SIGNS and for seasons" (Gen 1:14)
- "And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath..." (Acts 2:19)
What is a blood-red Moon? When the Earth passes between the Sun and a full Moon, blocking the sun's light, a total lunar eclipse occurs. Often during a total lunar eclipse, the moon is not completely dark, but is faintly illuminated with a red light refracted by the earth's atmosphere which filters out the blue rays. In modern times, a higher density of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere contributes to a spectacular red moon such as the photograph below. (The un-retouched photo below is the Blood Red Moon seen on the night of September 26, 1996 photographed in Jerusalem. This moon appeared on "Sukkot," the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles which Messianic Jews believe is the true birthday of Jesus Christ.)
The Jewish Talmud (book of tradition - not Scripture) has an interesting comment reference blood-red moons: "When the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel... If its face is as red as blood, [it is a sign that] the sword is coming to the world..."
What is intriguing is that four, blood moons will occur on the Jewish Feast days of Passover and Sukkoth in 2014 and 2015. According to NASA, four 'blood-red' total lunar eclipses will fall on these feast days back-to-back in 2014 and 2015. This is very rare and has only occurred seven times in the last 2000 years, twice being in the 20th century - 1948 (the year for statehood for Israel) and 1967 (six day war and capture of Jerusalem).
An estimated 10,000 years ago, a comet left the far-distant shell of our Solar System, known as the "Oort" cloud, and began its' long journey towards our sun. It was discovered in Sep 2012 by two Russian astronomers inbound just beyond the orbit of Jupiter and named "ISON" after the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) telescope used to first see it. The size of a mountain, it is believed to be approximately 3 miles in diameter.
Soon after discovery, astronomers mapped its' trajectory as a "sungrazing" comet, bringing it perilously close to the sun - the most spectacular of all comets. Comet ISON will make its closest approach to the Sun on Thanksgiving Day 2013 at a distance of only 1.2 million km from the surface of the Sun, actually passing through the Sun’s outer atmosphere. If the comet survives this very close encounter, it should emerge glowing as brightly as the Moon, visible even in daylight sky and its tail an unforgettable sight by night. Some speculate it could become the brightest comet in recorded history. If it doesn't survive its' passage by the sun, the comet’s nucleus will disintegrate into a cloud of rubble and ice.
If ISON survives the close encounter with the sun, its' closest approach to Earth will be Dec 25-26 2013.
Even more intriguing is the journey this comet will take through the constellations from the viewing perspective of Earth:
- During its anticipated peak brightness period in 2013, Comet Ison will appear like a "scepter" passing though the full length of Leo (the Lion) from October 4th-November 3rd
- Then it moves on to Virgo (the virgin) during the day as it enters this constellation on November 4th and departs November 24th.
- It will then move down and tip by the (balance scales) of Libra on November 24-26
- Next it cuts through the head of Scorpio (the Redeemer’s conflict) on November 27-29
- Then it also cuts through the center of the constellation Serpens Caput (the Serpent) on December 6-11 2013.
- It will then move through the club of Hercules as it heads toward the center of Draco (the dragon) on December 29 to 31st during the mid-day hours as seen from Jerusalem.
- On January 1, 2014 it enters (the twins) of Gemini and remains there until Rosh Chodesh, the "new moon" of March 12th.
In Jan 2014, the Earth will pass through ISON's tail. From the NASA web site:
"For several days around January 12, 2014, Earth will pass through a stream of fine-grained debris from Comet ISON," says Wiegert. "The resulting shower could have some interesting properties.
According to Wiegert's computer models, the debris stream is populated with extremely tiny grains of dust, no more than a few microns wide, pushed toward Earth by the gentle radiation pressure of the sun. They will be hitting at a speed of 56 km/s or 125,000 mph. Because the particles are so small, Earth’s upper atmosphere will rapidly slow them to a stop.
While the dust is “up there,” it could produce noctilucent clouds (NLCs).
NLCs are icy clouds that glow electric-blue as they float more than 80 km above Earth's poles. Recent data from NASA's AIM spacecraft suggests that NLCs are seeded by space dust. Tiny meteoroids act as nucleating points where water molecules gather; the resulting ice crystals assemble into clouds at the edge of space itself.
This is still speculative, but Comet ISON could provide the seeds for a noctilucent display. Electric-blue ripples over Earth's polar regions might be the only visible sign that a shower is underway.
Wiegert notes another curiosity: "The shower is going to hit our planet from two directions at once."
When Earth passes through the debris stream, we will encounter two populations of comet dust. One swarm of dust will be following the Comet ISON into the sun. Another swarm will be moving in the opposite direction, pushed away from the sun by solar radiation pressure. The streams will pepper opposite sides of Earth simultaneously.
"In my experience, this kind of double whammy is unprecedented," says Wiegert."