THE LORD'S COSMIC EXTRAVAGANZA
Comet Lulin approaching Earth, Feb. 2009
March 24, 1996
Oh LORD, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth,
Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!
--- Psalm 8:1---
The heavens are telling of the glory of GOD;
And the firmament is declaring the work of His hands.
For Thy lovingkindness is great to the heavens,
And Thy truth to the clouds.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Thy glory be above all the earth.
The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples have seen His glory.
There is none like the GOD of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to your help,
And through the skies in His majesty.
The eternal GOD is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the Everlasting arms.
This week has been Comet Hyakutake watching week, and every time that i go outside to begloriously blessed by this awesome event, Kanga is there to keep me company. i hope everyonehas had the comet-blessings that i have. Starting last Thursday, my excitement about getting tosee the comet was overwhelming. But that evening was cloudy when i went to bed, and i wasvery disappointed. Then at 12:20 am the Lord woke me up to look out the bedroom window---ahuge, beautiful comet right there!! (How do i know it was the Lord? i almost never wake upbetween 11pm and 2am, and never do i find myself suddenly awake and looking out the window,all in a split second! i had prayed to see it, and He was answering!!) But what a surprise when igot up at 4--the comet was even larger and brighter, and the tail very long and visible; 80 degreesof the sky, it's reported. WOW!!!!! The best observation time has been after 3 am; it seems thebrightest (the sky the darkest), and the tail is the longest to our earthly perspective. So huge, sobright, so spectacular!!! It seemingly 'came out of nowhere,' discovered just a few short weeksago by an amateur astronomer searching the skies with his binoculars. It has been speculated thatit may have an orbit of 17,000 years (Haley's is 76 years....) Maybe the biggest and brightestcomet to pass this close to us since the 1500's. i can remember anticipating the last 2 comets tobe visible here, Haley's and Kohotec; both were very far away, and even with binoculars it wasdifficult to see them. But they were fabulous none the less, and very exciting!!!
But suddenly, inour familiar, steadfast sky, comes a gigantic anomaly, larger than the moon, and visiting for only afew short weeks. So rare is the appearance of comets, that most of us have seen only one or twoor three in our entire lifetimes, and this ones' unexpected and swift arrival brings great joy andawesome wonder. For the most part, stars are in close parity. A few shine brighter to give us theskeletons of our beloved constellations; the Milky Way could be thought of as looking somewhatlike a comet's tail, but it's makeup is clearly stars; and it's constant presence brings familiarity ofthe unwavering night sky. Planets can be very bright, but still they are relatively small in stature. But a comet this big sticks out like a sore thumb, and overpowers the entire sky. The eye isdrawn back to it time and time again; it's size and distinctly different shape demand we pay itattention, demand we acknowledge it's presence, demand we talk about it and study it, demand we alter the routine of our everyday lives to give it some priority for an intense, butlimited, span of time. We often wonder just where the sun is at night; but when a comet isvisiting, all we have to do is look at the tail, and know the sun is on the exact opposite side...forthe formation of the tail is caused by the radiation streaming out from the Sun, propelling dustparticles and ice crystals into the Heavens.
Even the Internet pages are buzzing with cometactivity!! The latest space shuttle is in orbit now too, and should be bringing us some spectacularphotos and observations. This comet is clearly speaking to us it's urgent message---'enjoy mewhile you can; i most likely will not return in your lifetime!' Is it possible that a comet is the 'star'talked about in Revelation 8 and 9, the star which falls to earth to bring woes at the GreatTribulation???? So for a couple of weeks i will be short on sleep, and wake many times duringthe night just to say hi! And i will keep the chaise and a sleeping bag handy to lie outside duringthe hour or so before dawn, to soak up a vision to remember for a lifetime! This comet almostlooks like a gargantuan kite, one that the Lord let fly away to delight His Creation on this planet!! In 2 weeks we will be blessed with a total lunar eclipse, and it is speculated that the comet's tailwill produce a meteor shower. Thank You Lord for your Glorious CelestialExtravaganza!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, the delights You continually shower upon us!!!
Revelation 4:11---Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive
Glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create
All things, and because of Thy will they existed, and
January 26, 1997
A miracle is in the works!!!! For the second time in as many years, we are being visited by acomet of such proportions that we will have yet another once-in-a-lifetime celestial experience!!!! Hale-Bopp is here!!! i had mistakenly thought that when it was discovered in 1995, and hadn'tarrived as quickly as Hyakutake, that it wasn't coming close enough to earth to be visible, muchless spectacular. NOT SO!!! It's been about 4,200 years on it's journey, and the Lord has chosento so utterly delight us twice in less than 12 months, that HE must be tickled pink at our totalawe!!
i have been inspired to subscribe to ASTRONOMY magazine, which surely would have alertedme sooner to this comet's arrival. Nov. 12. 1996: a little article in the newspaper, telling of thelocation for siting that evening. And there it was!!! A tiny fuzz in the Western sky, just afterdark. Looking thru the binoculars brought it 'up close and personal' to be sure; a distinct cometwith even our poor bincos!!! It was on it's way toward the sun, and would not be visible for 6weeks. Then came January 18, and Hale-Bopp was now visible in the pre-dawn hours. Onceagain a fuzzy star, but just look through the bincos, and suddenly, a huge comet pops into view!!! And it is still very far away; after all, it won't be at it's closest approach to the earth until March22!!! At it's closest, Hale-Bopp will be about 197 million km from earth; at it's closest, March 25,1996, Hyakutake was only about 15 million km away!!! That makes Hale-Bopp more than 10times farther away than Hyakutake!!! And already it appears, to this untrained eye, to be evenbrighter. WOW and HALLELUJAH!!!!! It seems as if Hale-Bopp is about 40 km in diameter; most comets are between 1 and 10 km across. It is reported that in August 1996, Hale-Bopp'scoma grew to over one million km across, or roughly the size of the sun. It is possible it couldget even bigger as it gets closer to the sun.
Hale-Bopp has a New Mexico connection; the co-discoverer, Alan Hale, is from Cloudcroft, andhe and Thomas Bopp first saw the comet beyond the orbit of Jupiter in July 1995. Even then itwas about 250 times brighter than Comet Halley was at the same distance.
The word 'comet' is derived through the Latin from the Greek word for 'hair,' for the tail of thecomet resembles long hair streaming in the wind. The coma is the diffuse envelope formed by thegasses and dust driven out of the nucleus by solar radiation. The nucleus is speculated to be madeup of chunks of ice and meteoric dust, and the tail is also very fine dust driven out of the coma bythe pressure of the solar radiation. Tails can extend enormous distances, multiple millions of milesin some cases. The closer to the Earth's orbit and the sun, the longer the tail. It is also thoughtthat comets are the 'parents' of meteor swarms and perhaps of all meteors, other GloriousCelestial Extravaganzas!!!
Thankfully, Santa Fe County is trying to implement strick light-pollution ordinances to return theglorious night skies for which the South West used to be famous before the insanity of all-night,too-bright lighting became all the rage; big city ways creeping into country life....... We areblessed to still have good skies, although the southern horizon has disappeared in the lights ofAlbuquerque, and the northern horizon is disappearing each year from the encroachment of SantaFe. Even Cerrillos is beginning to have light pollution of it's very own......
When Hyakutake was here in 1996, the moon was a major interference. Will it be different withHale-Bopp? Saturday morning, Jan. 25, i went outside just for fun to see if the comet would bevisible. The full moon was on the 23rd, so before dawn, the moon was still huge and bright. Theeastern sky was even beginning to lighten, and i didn't expect to see anything but the usual planetsand a few stars. But LO AND BEHOLD!!! There was Hale-Bopp!!! Even with all thatcompetition, it was very visible both to the naked eye, and in the binoculars. This leads me tothink that we will have an even more spectacular show than last year. Thank You LORD!!!!