by Bill Nugent
The year 2013 has been called the year of the comets since no less than three comets have been visible to the naked eye during the year. Each year dozens of new comets are discovered, though very few ever come close to being visible without a telescope. The year 2013’s three unaidedly visible comets were Comet PANSTARRS, Comet Lemmon and of course, the most prominent, Comet ISON.
The Bible in Genesis 1:14 says that the lights of the heavens are for signs. In Luke 21:25, Jesus said that there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars in the latter days. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1 NAS). In many cultures down through history, comets have been considered portents of doom. Let’s pray that it’s not the case this time, especially since we’ve had three big comets in one year!
Comet ISON was a long period comet which means it took more than 200 years for it to traverse its orbit. It was also a sun grazer which means it orbited extremely close to the sun. ISON passed around the sun at about 750,000 miles above the sun’s surface at 1:37 PM EST on November 28th.
Great comets are rare, usually only about one per decade. Great comets of the past have been Caesar’s comet of 44 BC, Halley’s comet of 1066, the comet of 1811, the comet of 1861, Comet West of 1976, Comet Hyakutake of 1996, Comet Hale Bopp of 1997, Comet McNaught of 2007 and Comet Lovejoy of 2011. Astronomers have rated Comet ISON as a great comet. Comet PANSTARRS of 2013 is also considered great. I don’t know the status of 2013’s Comet Lemmon. It’s very rare to have two great comets in one year.
Comets are objects composed of frozen water, carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia with an admixture of gritty dust particles. Comets orbit the Sun in regular, stable, elliptical orbits. When a comet orbits close to the Sun the icy nucleus partially melts and blows off as ionized gas. The ionized gas shines brightly and forms a long tail, making the comet visible from earth. The comet loses a significant part of its mass every time it passes near the Sun. Short period comets orbit the Sun in less than 200 years; long period comets orbit the Sun in over 200 years.
Comets have long been a problem for those who believe in a multi-billion year age of the Solar System. Comets burn out quickly and there is no replenishment mechanism. The theory that comets come from deep space and are captured by the Sun’s gravity has long been discredited even by noncreationist astronomers because the shapes of comets’ orbits are wrong for that type of origin. Astronomers are virtually unanimous in agreeing that comets are part of the Solar System and were formed when the Solar System was formed.
It became clear to all astronomers that no comet could have endured passing around the Sun for the supposed multi-billion year age of the Solar System. All comets would have burned out eons ago because they would have passed by the sun innumerable times if the solar system is billions of years old. For this reason, astronomers searched for a comet replenishment mechanism.
Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, around 1950, offered a hypothesis that there must be a cloud of comet nuclei out beyond the orbits of the planets. The Oort cloud hypothesis maintains that this cloud is as old as the Solar System and occasionally comet nuclei fall out of it to become visible comets. The Oort cloud hypothesis has many problems not the least of which is that it can’t be found even with the Hubble Space Telescope! Comet nuclei are very small and the alleged Oort cloud is supposedly orbiting beyond Pluto. The Oort cloud has never been observed yet some noncreationist astronomers cling to the belief that it will be observable with more advanced telescope technology.
In newscast discussions of Comet ISON you’ve probably heard newscasters casually mention that Comet ISON originated in the Oort cloud. That is pure speculation.
Computer simulations of the Oort cloud have shown that even if it did exist it “could not produce enough short period comets with the required low orbital inclinations.” (Comets and the Age of the Solar System, Dr. D. Faulkner, Cr. Ex Nihilo Tech. Journal 11(3): 264-273, 1997.)
The lack of plausibility of the Oort cloud Hypothesis has caused some to turn to the Kuiper belt to grasp for replenishment of comets. The few objects discovered in the Kuiper belt (orbital range beyond Neptune) are much too large to become what has been observed to be short period comets. Also, astronomers agree that the Kuiper belt cannot produce long period comets.
In spite of the prodigious efforts of noncreationist astronomers it appears that the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud hypotheses remain very tenuous and speculative. Without a replenishment mechanism we are forced to conclude that comets were formed at the beginning of the solar system and have been orbiting the sun since the solar system’s earliest days and have not burnt out. For this reason, comets stand as evidence for recent creation of the Solar System. The Bible’s timeline of less than 10,000 years is once again seen as consistent with scientific evidence.
A young solar system means a young earth and young earth means too short a time to allow for evolution to happen. Evolution, which is the secular origins myth, could not have occurred. Hence, we must look to the Creator.
The field of astronomy has produced many ardent creationists. There are many fine creationist writings on astronomy including the book, Starlight and Time by Dr. D. Russell Humphreys.
So much evidence for intelligent design is observable in space that columnist George Will once quipped “Soon the American Civil Liberties Union, or People for the American Way, or some similar faction of litigious secularism will file suit against NASA, charging that the Hubble Space Telescope unconstitutionally gives comfort to the religiously inclined.” (The Gospel from ScienceNewsweek 11/9/98 p. 88.)
Comet ISON circled behind the sun on November 28th, 2013 and broke up and evaporated almost completely in the intense heat and gravitational pull of the sun. That day also happened to be the feast of Thanksgiving in the United States. It was also the first day of Hanukkah. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving haven’t coincided since 1888 and according to some with knowledge, won’t coincide again for more than 77,000 years.
So what does it all mean? Comet ISON becomes visible to the naked eye and then flies closest to the sun on a day which is a feast day in the United States and a holy day in Israel. It gives off great light and yet it breaks up. What does it mean? Perhaps something new regarding the US and Israel? Keep an eye on the news headlines because I don’t think we’ll have to wait long for the answer.
When they say “rest in peace” over your casket, where will your soul be?
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Prayer to receive salvation:
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!