This week, the Christmas Comet will be visible in the night sky, and we’re not talking about a reindeer.
Comet Leonard, a cosmic snowball of frozen gases, rock and dust, is currently passing by Earth and can be seen with little effort.
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“This comet will appear very low above the horizon just after sunset,” said Gregory Leonard, a senior research specialist at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, who discovered the comet this past January. “It will skim across the west-southwestern horizon between now up until around Christmas time.”
According to astronomers, the comet will appear like a fuzzy green star with a tail, and will soon leave our atmosphere, making it a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity.
"I feel there is going to be something to be seen even for the casual observer," Leonard said. "Find yourself a dark sky with a good view of the horizon, bring binoculars and I think you may be rewarded."
If you’ve ever wondered if the Bible mentions comets, you’re in for a Bible trivia treat. The Book of Jude makes a reference to “wandering stars” or comets in verse 13.
"They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever." – Jude 1:13 (NIV)
In context, Jude is describing false teachers, warning believers that “in the last times” they will infiltrate the church.
A fascinating article by the Institution of Creation Research describes this link further:
The analogy is evident: just as a false teacher sometimes appears as "an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14), so a comet in proximity to the sun has a brilliant tail of gas emanating from its icy head which is illuminated by the sun. The nearness of a comet to the sun is only temporary, for the comet soon departs to a remote region of the solar system ... A comet far from the sun is invisible to even the most powerful telescope and can be described as residing in "outer darkness.”
One thing to remember, while many astronomers marvel at the rarity and unpredictability of comets, asteroids, Christmas Stars, and other heavenly mysteries, believers can look to the sky and see the glory of God’s sovereignty.
King David spent many nights admiring the skies as a sign of God’s wondrous love and power. Psalms 19:1 (NIV) says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Likewise, the Prophet Isaiah encourages the people of Israel in Isaiah 40:26 (NIV) to “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
So if you take some time to look for the Christmas Comet this week, use it as a reminder that we serve a God who is all-powerful, who created the heavens and the earth, the comets and the stars — and yes, even the reindeer (the non-flying variety).
The Night Before the Christmas Comet
Lift your eyes to the horizon
and you may see a sight.
Not of reindeer or sleighs,
or “angels of light,”
but the glory of God’s sovereignty
shining so bright.
Merry Christmas to all
and to all a good night!
Photo Credit: Instagram
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