Astronomers around the word are going to be watching a new comet, known as Comet Siding Spring, as it passes within 82,000 miles of planet Mars on October 19.
At one time astronomers feared that the Martian Comet was as large as 30 miles wide and would actually hit Mars. However, later observations showed that the Martian Comet was only half a mile wide and would just miss the planet. Even so, the near miss is 16 times closer to Mars than any recorded comet has come to Earth. And, just 20 years ago, Comet Shoemaker –Levy 9 reminded us of the destructive potential of comets when it broke apart and collided with Jupiter, buring Earth size holes in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
This is the second comet to be associated with Mars in the last year. During October of 2013 the Comet ISON tracked the planet Mars, coming within one degree in the sky on October 17(See our Blog of 10/9/13 “The Hanukkah Comet”). The closeness of the comet, warning of Judgment, and the Blood red planet Mars, offering grace through the Blood of Jesus, reminds us that we still have the choice to avoid judgment by purifying ourselves as the Temple was purified at Hanukkah. This same message has also been conveyed by a near miss from an asteroid, the largest meteor strike in 100 years, and two other comets since 2013 (See our Blog of 4/30/14 “Comet Sends Message to Church”).
It may seem strange to some that those warnings have come in the midst of the 2014-15 Blood Moon Tetrad which promises to pour out God’s grace and overcoming power of the Church (See our Blog of 10/5/14 “The Blood Moon and the Church”). However, Scripture teaches that God can protect His people while punishing His enemies (2 Pe 2:9). And this is the message of the Martian Comet, for it passes by Mars in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Held), which pictures Christ restraining evil. The meeting place is just below the Star Saiph (meaning Bruised), which reminds us that Christ took our judgment when he was “Bruised in the Heel” (Gen 3:15). We also have the unforgettable picture of Jupiter (The Suffering Savior) absorbing our punishment as it absorbed Comet Shoemaker Levy-9.
You can find Mars in the South Western sky just after sunset, but the Martian Comet should only be visible with binoculars or a telescope.
And rejoice that Christ took the shots meant for you.