V RaptureChrist Newsletter
Dec 1, 2001

Meteors -- what are they? 

Most meteors are streaks of light that appears in the sky for a fraction of a second. They are caused when a meteoroid -- a particle that usually ranges in size from a grain of sand to a pebble-- enters the atmosphere of the earth from outer space. Meteor Impact The largest known meteoroid was the Chicxulub  meteor in Mexico. It is believed to have killed all the dinosaurs.

 In the picture we show a drawing of what it looked like.  The basin it formed in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula has a diameter of 190 miles (300 kilometers). Rock samples obtained by drilling into the basin show increased amounts of iridium, which indicates that an asteroid struck the earth there.  The impact hurled much debris into the sky. Many scientists believe these particles were carried high into the ionosphere, blanketing the earth for years, causing something similar to a nuclear winter blocking out the sun and causing climate changes that the dinosaurs could not survive.

Most meteors vaporize when they enter the earth's atmosphere. The combined speed from the meteoroid plus the earth speed may reach about 45 miles per second -- this is what causes the friction that melts the meteorite.  Friction heats up the meteoroid which gives off a trail of inflamed gases, and this is what is seen by the naked eye as a bright path that some people call a shooting star. In some meteors, the trail of gases lasts for a minute or more. 

 TunguskaIn the last century a meteor vaporized before hitting the earth in Tunguska, Russia.  The area of devastation is still seen today, almost a century after the episode occurred.

If the mass of the meteoroid is large enough, and it enters at the correct angle, it could reach the surface of the earth; these are called meteorites.  

The size of meteorites varies. Most are relatively small, but a few have left a crater when they hit the earth. 

Thousands of small meteorites have been found in Antarctica, because in Antarctica there is no vegetation that would hide the remains of the meteorite and of the impact it made on the earth surface.  These meteorites have provided a rich supply of specimens for scientists to study. 

When a large meteor such as an asteroid crashes into a planet, it produces an impact crater or basin. These basins are bowl-shaped depressions. They have shallow, flat floors and uplifted rims.  These craters are found in other planets and satellites such as the moon.

Meteor Crater
Meteor Crater in Arizona

Scientists have found more than 100 impact craters on the surface of the earth. One of the most famous, the Barringer Crater, also called  Meteor Crater, in northern Arizona is about 4,180 feet across and 570 feet deep. It was formed when a large 90 to160 feet diameter nickel-iron asteroid struck the Colorado Plateau in Arizona, USA. The enormous explosion excavated 175 million tons of rock and  left a  raised rim of smashed and jumbled boulders, some of them the size of  houses.  It is still visible because it is located in a desert area, where no vegetation hides it from sight.

When Europeans first encountered Meteor Crater, the arid sandstone plain around  it was littered  with big boulders of meteoritic iron - over 30 tons of it, scattered over an area 8 to 10 miles in diameter.

Most basins  and impact craters bigger than the Meteor Crater are largely eroded or have been buried by rocks, dirt and vegetation due to the fact that they are located in areas of heavy rainfall.

Meteoroids travel around the sun in a variety of orbits and at different velocities. 

The earth meets several streams of meteoroids every year.  These streams of meteoroids have orbits similar to those of comets, and are believed to be the remains of disintegrated comets.  These streams of meteoroids entering the earth are called meteor showers.

The Leonids -- is this a sign?

LeonidsOne of the most brilliant meteor shower is the Leonid shower, given this name because it seems to come from the direction of the constellation Leo.  It occurs every November.  One of the most brilliant Leonid showers was seen in 1833.  The last Leonid shower was this year on November 17-19.  It was visible from several continents as the Earth went through the path of several streams of the remains of  comet Tempel-Tuttle .

Observers counted about 4000 meteors per hour over the Americas, Asia and Australia.  MoonThey also saw meteors strike the surface of the Moon. Brian Cudnik from Houston, Texas, observing through a telescope, saw a brief flash, about a fraction of a second, near the center of the Moon's dark side.  The event was also seen by astronomer David Dunham, who made a video recording of the meteor striking the lunar surface.

The moon surface is pockmarked with thousands of craters due to the fact that the moon has no atmosphere and more space debris is capable of reaching its surface.

Another probable lunar meteor impact was  recorded by Gervase of Canterbury in 1178.  Along with five other monks, he observed a very bright flash on the Moon:

"There was a bright New Moon, and as usual in that phase its horns were tilted towards the east. Suddenly, the upper horn split in two. From the midpoint of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out fire, hot coals and sparks."

Some astronomers believe that the "moon is ringing like a bell" since the time of this impact.  Crater Bruno, one of the youngest on the lunar surface, may have been formed in this event.

Does the bible say anything about these events or future events such as this?

Revelation 6:12
I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;

Revelation 6:13
and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.

This describes a meteor shower.  Observers of the last Leonid shower were able to perceive that for a few minutes there were no falling stars.  Then suddenly three or more would "fall" at one time, similar to a fig tree dropping unripe figs when shaken by a gust of wind.

The Book of Revelation continues with the next event:

Revelation 6:14
The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

A mention of the sky being split apart occurred in 1908 at Tunguska, Siberia. 

According to an eyewitness in Vanavara, "The sky split apart and a great fire appeared. It became so hot that one couldn't stand it. There was a deafening explosion [and my friend] S. Semenov was blown over the ground across a distance of three sazhens [six meters]. As the hot wind passed by, the ground and the huts trembled. Sod was shaken loose from our ceilings and glass was splintered out of the window frames."

The reason that the sky split apart in Tunguska was that the heat of the meteor caused the hot air to rise pushing away the clouds like a knife cutting the sky.  A similar event, but of a much larger magnitude will happen in the near future, as predicted in the Book of Revelation.

We should be looking attentively to these signs of His coming.

Luke 21:28
But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

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