The dire words of Jesus# “The sun will grow dark and the moon will no longer shine” are supposed to be about the End Times, when many Christians believe Jesus will return to earth. In the later 1900s it looked like The Cold War between the Soviets and the West would lead to a nuclear war, and that would be it. But when the Cold War ended we needed to find another way to darken the sun and dim the moon. A killer asteroid could do it, we realized, as geologists pieced together evidence that an enormous asteroid (six miles across) had wiped out the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. This asteroid, which crashed near the Yucatan region of Mexico, spewed up an immense cloud of dust and debris that circulated and cooled the entire world.
So what do we know about asteroid collisions with earth? A recent article** in Time Magazine discusses the size and potential bang of asteroids which are out there in space. It also describes the USA effort to track asteroids that approach earth, and how to deflect them away from a collision. I excerpt below the main points of the article:
• The asteroid threat is now being taken seriously. Budget is up….way up….in the past couple of years.
• Apart from the cretaceous crash of 65 million years ago, Russia experienced a similar event but smaller in 1908 in the Tunguska region. This asteroid was 130 ft across and flattened like matchsticks 830 square miles of trees. An even smaller event occurred in 2013 in Chelyabinsk in Russia, injuring 1,600 people and damaging over 7,000 buildings. This rock was 66 ft across. Both these Russian asteroids exploded in the atmosphere before they hit ground.
• The cosmic defender is Don Yeomans. He and a team of six work out of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California (I once discussed cosmic rays from the sun with a scientist who later became a director of JPL, but that was many years ago).
• The team is tracking over 600,000 asteroids.
• Frequency and damage: every day earth gets hit by 100 tons of pebble-sized asteroids, which burn up in the atmosphere. One of these is the size of a basketball. Every 8 months something arrives as big as a car. The range of sizes, how many are near the earth, and how often one will collide with earth, is given in the table. Plus the explosiveness compared with a Hiroshima atom bomb. It’s scary stuff!
• Most of the tracking is done by three telescopes – in Hawaii, Arizona, and New Mexico (yeah for the last one!).
• Hazardous asteroids: defined as more than 460 ft across which come within 4.7 million miles of earth. NASA has discovered about 1500 of these interlopers, but there are undiscovered ones still out there (scary!).
• Another goal of the team is to deflect an approaching asteroid away from a direct hit on the earth. One method is to blow it to bits using explosives: conventional or nuclear. But launching nukes is not popular these days, and it may just turn an asteroid bomb into an asteroid cluster bomb. Alternatively, shoot the asteroid with a cannon ball or even a spacecraft. If far away, even a small deflection can redirect an asteroid to miss the earth. The problem is no spacecraft exists that can execute this maneuver, and we’d need a 10-year window to develop and be able to pull this off.
Not included in the Time article is the asteroid which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible story has been confirmed by an Albuquerque geologist, Dr Steven Collins, and is documented in a recent book. Collins discovered a 1-meter layer of ash which contained broken mud-bricks, pulverized pottery, and human bones. The destruction, which occurred 3,700 years ago, was of a similar scale to the Tunguska asteroid. This confirmation of a very old Bible story (Genesis chapter 19) adds validity to all the stories of the Bible.
Now we return to the darkening of the sun and the moon.
I will not get into Bible prophecy and interpretation about Jesus’ second coming, as that is difficult and controversial. In the past few years there has been an unusual convergence of events in the USA that taken together may be regarded as a warning from God that the time is near (Click on link for more info).
The first event is the influx of new movies centered on Jesus or God.
The second event is the discovery of Sodom.
The third event is the publication of three books proving heaven exists.
The fourth event is Tim Tebow.
The fifth event is called the Singularity.
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……
** The Man who Guards the Planet by Jeffrey Kluger, Time Magazine, June 2014.
# Soon after the trouble of those days the sun will grow dark, the moon will no longer shine, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers in space will be driven from their course. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky.
(Matthew chapter 24).
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