Comet ISON: Sign of the Ancient Prophecy of Haggai

November 20, 2013

"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring. Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken," Luke 21:25-26.   Haggai 2:6-7; 18-19; 20-22 warns, "For thus saith the Lord of hosts... "I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I will shake all nations"... Consider now from this day [the eve of Hanukkah] and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month... from this day will I bless you [Israel]. The Lord came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month [the eve of Hanukkah], saying, "I will shake the heavens and the earth. And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen [Gentile nations]." In sight are signs from heaven -- including the Comet ISON, which will reach the Sun on November 28, 2013.

While professional scientists are now tracking ISON assiduously, the comet was actually discovered by Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. They spotted the comet on Sept. 21, 2012, using photographs taken by a telescope run by the International Scientific Optical Network (whose acronym explains how the comet got its name).

The NASA spacecraft called SWIFT (launched 9 years ago today, November 20, 2004), typically used to track explosions in the universe and intense gamma-ray bursts from distant stars, photographed Comet ISON on January 30, 2013. By tracking the comet, SWIFT has allowed astronomers to learn new details about how large the comet is and how fast it is spewing out gas and dust -- an icy wanderer that could potentially dazzle stargazers when it swings closest to the sun on November 28, 2013 -- the first day of Hanukkah 2013 (which also coincides with Thanksgiving Day). This overlap of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving has never happened before... and it will never happen again. The first candle of Hanukkah is lit at sunset on Wednesday November 27 the night before Thanksgiving, as the 24th day of the ninth Hebrew month of Kislev comes to an end.

ISON was tagged as a "comet of the century" candidate almost immediately after its discovery in September 2012, with some forecasts suggesting it could shine as brightly as the full moon in late November and early December 2013. A spectacular show is certainly possible, experts say. "More likely, ISON will be one of the brightest comets in the past several years and, thanks to the global astronomy community, we hope one of the most broadly observed comets in history!" researchers with the NASA-organized Comet ISON Observation Campaign (CIOC) wrote in a status update."

Scientists think ISON is making its first trip to the inner solar system from the huge comet repository known as the Oort Cloud, which lies about 1 light-year from the sun. This explains some of the uncertainty in the forecasts of ISON's performance. It's difficult to predict how any comet will behave during a close solar passage, experts say, and especially tough to do so for "dynamically new" comets like ISON. It is hoped to still have most of its volatiles intact when it slingshots around the sun. Volatiles are the substances which heat up and blast off the comet's nucleus to form the wispy comet tail which can stretch for millions of miles through space.

The NASA graph below shows where ISON was traveling when it was photographed by the SWIFT spacecraft

on January 30, 2013.

 

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Axel Mellinger

View full size image

 

 

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