Comet Holmes (17P)
November 1, 2007
Spectacular cometary outburst lights up Perseus
THE SKY IN NOVEMBER
November 1, 2007
AN INCREDIBLY dim comet flared up in brightness last week to change the naked-eye appearance of the constellation Perseus, ideally placed as it climbs in our eastern evening sky. The brightening, by a factor of a million or so, is unprecedented, though the same comet had been enjoying a lesser outburst when it was first spotted in 1892 by Edwin Holmes from London.
Comet Holmes takes almost seven years to orbit the Sun at a distance that varies between 327 million and 775 million km, in a path that criss-crosses the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It passed perihelion, its closest point to the Sun, in May and appeared near its predicted brightness at the 17th magnitude until last Wednesday. This was so faint that only the largest of telescopes could hope to show it.
On Thursday, though, something caused it to brighten spectacularly to become a second magnitude object in Perseus. Initially starlike in appearance, it was only a little inferior to Mirfak, the brightest star in Perseus, which stood a few degrees away and shines at magnitude 1.9. The new "star" could easily have been mistaken for a true stellar outburst, a nova, which might not be so unusual in a Milky Way constellation like Perseus.
Indeed, what was the brightest nova seen until then flared in Perseus in 1901 and was discovered by Thomas Anderson, a clergyman and amateur astronomer in Edinburgh. That nova reached magnitude 0.2 to rival the bright star Capella and, now called GK Persei, it is still studied as it flickers erratically near the 13th magnitude. Interestingly, Anderson made an independent discovery of our comet just two days after Holmes in 1892, so we might now be watching Comet Anderson rather than Comet Holmes...
E. Holmes (London, England) was a regular observer of the Andromeda galaxy (M31), so he knew the region very well. On the evening of 1892 November 6, with skies that were not very favorable, he finished making a few observations of Jupiter and some double stars with his 32-cm reflector, and then decided to take a quick look at the faint companions of Mu Andromedae and the nearby galaxy M31 before quitting for the night. Upon turning the reflector toward that region, he saw what he thought was M31 enter the field of the finder, but when he looked through the eyepiece he saw something different. Holmes said he "called out involuntarily, 'What is the matter? There is something strange here.' My wife heard me and thought something had happened to the instrument and came to see." The object in the field of Holmes' telescope was a comet with a coma about 5 arc minutes across and with a bright nucleus. The date was then November 6. Holmes was able to determine a rough positon on November 7, before clouds moved in. He immediately wrote to E. W. Maunder (Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England), W. H. Maw (England), and Kidd (Bramley, England). Kidd immediately expressed some skepticism about Holmes' find because of its nearness to M31; however, on November 7, Kidd and Bartlett (Bramley) spotted the comet with the naked eye. The comet was independently discovered by T. D. Anderson (Edinburgh, Scotland) on November 8 and by J. E. Davidson (Mackay, Queensland, Australia) on November 9...
The comet had passed perihelion nearly five months before discovery and had passed closest to Earth just a month before. As astronomers would later realize, it was discovered during an apparent outburst in brightness. Nearly every astronomer reported the comet was visible to the naked eye through the first half of November, but few made actual total magnitude estimates. E. E. Barnard (Lick Observatory, California, USA) said the comet "was easily visible to the naked eye, as a small hazy star, and almost exactly as bright as the brightest part" of the galaxy M31 on the 9th. The comet faded throughout the second half of November, but it was still a naked-eye object until the last days of this period. Although no actual total magnitude estimates were made, a couple of astronomers made observations that give clues to the comet's brightness. G. Gruss (Prague, Czech Republic) said it was very easy to see in the 5-cm finder on the 23rd and he said it seemed brighter on the 24th, while M. Updegraff (State University of Missouri) said it was barely visible to the naked eye after the moon had set on the 26th. Moonlight blocked the comet from view as December began. On the December 6, H. A. Kobold (Strasbourg, France) described the comet as a shapeless nebulosity, without a distinct condensation. F. Ristenpart (Karlsruhe, Germany) said the comet could barely be seen by averted vision in the 15-cm refractor on the 7th. J. Tebbutt (Windsor, New South Wales, Australia) said the comet was "of the last degree of faintness" in the 11-cm refractor on the 7th and 8th. On 1893 January 5, Barnard viewed the comet at low power in the 30-cm refractor and said the comet appeared very large and very faint, while Kobold said the 46-cm refractor revealed a faint spot of nebulosity about 2 arc minutes across which was only visible with great effort. Kobold noted the comet was next to a star of magnitude 10 on the 12th and was very difficult to see. The coma was about 30 arc seconds across.
The comet experienced another outburst in brightness around January 16. Kobold noted the comet was visible to the naked eye on January 16 and said a telescope revealed a nucleus of magnitude 8 and a coma 41 arc seconds across. At about the same time, J. Palisa (Vienna, Austria) also found the comet shining like a star of magnitude 8, and gave the coma diameter as 20 arc seconds. Observations made on the 17th indicated the comet had not changed in brightness, but exhibited a larger coma than on the previous night. A 30-minute exposure by I. Roberts (England) revealed "a very dense circular nucleus surrounded by symmetrical nebulosity, which gave the comet the appearance of a nebulous star." He measured the coma as 39 arc seconds across and the nuclear condensation as 14 arc seconds across.
The comet steadily faded after the mid-January outburst. Its position was measured for the final time on March 13, when Palisa found it with the 69-cm refractor and described it as extremely faint. The final observations of the comet were made by H. C. Wilson (Goodsell Observatory, Northfield, Minnesota) on April 4 and Kobold on April 6. Wilson observed with a 41-cm refractor and described the comet as "exceedingly faint" with a coma about 2 arc minutes across and "very slight" central condensation. Kobold said it as "extremely faint" and added that it was impossible to measure the position "on this and on several following evenings." Wilson again looked for the comet in the 41-cm refractor on August 16 and September 14, but no trace was found. He took a photograph of the region where the comet was expected to be on 1894 January 12. The exposure was made with the 15-cm camera and the exposure was one hour in duration. Although a slightly oval stain about 20 arc minutes across and with no condensation was seen at the correct spot, He noted it was "so suspiciously like a dirty water stain that we hesitate to say anything about it without verification."...
The comet was lost after the 1906 apparition, despite predictions at virtually every return thereafter....
In the December 1963 issue of the Astronomical Journal B. G. Marsden integrated the motion of comet Holmes from 1899 to 1975 using a high-speed computer. He found that between the comet's last observed appearance in 1906 and the upcoming apparition of 1964, the orbital period should have increased from 6.86 years to 7.35 years, and the perihelion distance should have increased from 2.121 AU to 2.347 AU. The resulting prediction for the comet's next perihelion date was 1964 November 15. The comet was recovered by E. Roemer (U. S. Naval Observatory, Flagstaff station, Arizona) on 1964 July 16. She determined the magnitude as 19.2 and described the comet as very sharply condensed, with only a trace of coma. Additional plates were obtained on July 17, which revealed the same physical characteristics. Due to the weakness of the July images, additional confirmation was needed, and Roemer obtained this on September 11. The magnitude was determined as 18.7, and the comet was again described as very sharply condensed, with only a trace of coma. The precise positions indicated Marsden's prediction needed to be corrected by only +0.7 day. The comet has been observed at every return since 1964.
Apparition of 2007: OUTBURST The comet was observed at about magnitude 14.5 since July and had showed signs of a slow fading; however, very early on the morning of October 24, Juan Antonio Henrquez Santana (Spain) reported that the comet was much brighter than expected. This was all rapidly confirmed. One comet observer, Bob King (Minnesota, USA), made one of the confirming observations on October 24 and gave the magnitude as 7.1. He described it as appearing like a yellowish star. Interestingly, he reobserved the comet on October 24 and gave the magnitude as 4.0 with the naked eye!! Seiichi Yoshida (Japan) observed the comet on October 24 and gave the naked-eye magnitude as 3.5. Further observations by Yoshida gave the naked-eye magnitude as 3.0 on October 24 and 2.8 on October 24. Through the end of October, most observers were reporting the comet holding at magnitude 2.6-2.8.
The comet is named 17P Holmes.
Dr. Clark says, "17P means it was the 17th periodical comet discovered. The very first one was Halley's Comet. So it's called 1P. Periodic means it comes back, it's in an elliptical orbit and it will return. It goes through the edge of solar system and come back. It was discovered in 1892 by somebody named Holmes."
Number in Scripture
E. W. Bullinger
stands out very prominently as a significant number. It is not a multiple of any other number, and therefore it has no factors. Hence it is called one of the prime (or indivisible) numbers. What is more, it is the seventh in the list of the prime numbers.
The series runs 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, etc. Thirteen, it will be noted, is also a prime number, and is therefore important; but it is the sixth of the series: hence it partakes of the significance of the number 6, and is indeed an intensified expression of it.
In like manner seventeen being the seventh of the series, it partakes of and intensifies the significance of the number seven. Indeed, it is the combination or sum of two perfect numbersseven and tenseven being the number of spiritual perfection, and ten of ordinal perfection.
Contrasted together the significance of these two numbers is clear; and when united in the number seventeen we have a union of their respective meanings, viz., spiritual perfection, plus ordinal perfection, or the perfection of spiritual order.
We see a beautiful illustration in
which concludes the first great division of that all-important Epistle, and sums up the blessings of those who are dead and risen in Christ. First we have a series of seven, then a series of ten. The seven are marked off by being put in the form of a question, while the ten are given as the answer to it.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
as it is written, For Thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Thus is set forth the spiritual and eternal perfection of the believer's standing in Christ.
By forming the conclusive answer to the question, and giving us the positive assurance (though in a negative form), it seems as though the number ten is of more weight than seven when thus used together. It is so in 2 Chronicles 2, where, in verse 7, Solomon sends to Hiram for a cunning workman, and seven particulars are specified; and in verse 14 a man is sent and his qualifications are enumerated in ten particulars. A more important illustration will be found in
where the Old Dispensation and the New are thus contrasted:
"Ye are not come
but ye are come
Here again the blessings of the New Covenant are seen to be higher than those of the Old, both in number and in importance. The Old were spiritual (7), but the latter are more so, for they are doubly the manifestation of Divine grace, ten, or 2 x 5.
gives us the ten and the seven in a different order. Verses 6-9 give us a confederation of ten enemies for the purpose of making Israel extinct, and "to cut them off from being a nation"; while verses 10 and 12 give us an enumeration of seven enemies which the Lord had destroyed in the past, with the prayer that He would do to the confederacy of the ten what He had done to the seven in the past.
The commentators agree that no such confederacy can be found in the past history of Israel, so that we are shut up to the conclusion that the Psalm is Proleptic, and speaks of a yet future confederacy of which the later Prophets speak more particularly.
Verses 6-9: The ten-fold confederation:
Then follow, in verses 10-12, the seven enemies which had been destroyed in days of old:
The number seventeen (not the word merely) has a significance of its own, and therefore an importance which must be taken into account wherever it appears in the Word of God by itself or as a factor.
It forms a great factor in the number 153 (see below).
Seventeen Angelic appearances are recorded in the Gospels and Acts:
1-3. Three to Joseph, Matt 1:20, 2:13,19
4. To the Lord in the wilderness, Matt 4:11
5. In Gethsemane, Luke 22:43
6. On the stone at the sepulchre, Matt 28:2
7. Within the sepulchre, Mark 16:5
8. To Zecharias, Luke 1:11
9. To Mary, Luke 1:26
10, 11. Two to the Shepherds, Luke 2:9,13
12. At the pool of Bethesda, John 5:4
13. To the disciples, Acts 1:11
14. To the disciples in prison, Acts 5:19
15. To Cornelius, Acts 10:3
16. To Peter in prison, Acts 12:7
17. To Paul, Acts 27:23
This is a number which has taxed the ingenuity of some of the greatest of Bible students, and that from the earliest times. All have felt there must be something deeply significant and mysterious in this number, from the solemn way in which it is introduced in John 21:11,"Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land full of great fishes, one hundred and fifty and three."
Other miracles are parables in their lessons, and Augustine* has pointed out the comparison and contrast between the two miraculous draughts of fishes, one at the beginning and the other at the end of Christ's ministry (after His resurrection). He and other Commentators see in this number some connection with the saved, as being definite and particular down even to the last one, making up not a large round number, but a smaller and odd number, 153. They saw in this a proof of the fact that the number of the elect is fixed and pre-ordained.**
Jerome also sees there is some deeper meaning in the number, and says that there are 153 sorts of fish, i.e., all kinds of men enclosed in the Gospel net.
* Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John, 122.
** So Trench, Notes on the Miracles, p. 194.
Other more surprising suggestions have been made, but they are all the outcome of fancy.
The utmost that can be said is that had it been the round number 150, there would have been an absence of all definiteness, but as it goes beyond and gives the three by which the 150 is exceeded, it does seem to convey the impression that we have here, if these fishes are a symbol of the saved, an illustration and confirmation of our Lord's words, recorded in the same Gospel, "of all that He [the Father] hath given Me I should lose nothing" (John 6:39), and "those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost" (John 17:12).
When we come to the way in which the significance of this number has been estimated, we find a variety of modes. Augustine and Gregory the Great both start with the fact that 17 is the sum of 10 and 7. For the significance of the number 17 (see above). But they deal with the 17 in different ways.
Gregory simply multiplies 17 by 3 and again by 3 (i.e., 17x32), and thus arrives at 153.
Augustine, on the other hand, employs addition, and takes the sum of all the digits to and including 17 as amounting to exactly 153. He says,* "For if you add 2 to 1, you have 3, of course; if to these you add 3 and 4, the whole number makes 10; and then if you add all the numbers that follow up to 17, the whole amounts to the aforesaid number ; that is, if to 10, which you had reached by adding all together from 1 to 4, you add 5, you have 15; to these add 6, and the result is 21; then add 7, and you have 28; to this add 8, and 9, and 10, and you get 55; to this add 11, and 12, and 13, and you have 91; and to this again add 14, and 15, and 16, and it comes to 136; and then add to this the remaining number of which we have been speaking, namely 17, and it will make up the number of fishes."**
Bishop Wordsworth arrives at his result in a different manner. He uses two numbers, and employs both multiplication and addition. First he takes the square of 12 (which he holds to be the Church number), and then he adds the square of 3 (the number of the Godhead), and points out that 122 + 32 = 153, or (12 x 12) + (3 x 3).
* Tractate on John, 122.
** We should express this, now, more scientifically, and say, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 +14 + 15 + 16 + 17 = 153. And Gregory's we should express thus: (10 + 7) x (3 x 3) = 153.
We might give yet another contribution to these various modes as the result of our investigations in numbers, and say that 153 = 9 x 17, and see in this number all judgment (9) exhausted for the people of God (17) in the person of their Surety.
All, however, agree in the great and blessed fact that "Salvation is of the Lord," Divine alike in its source, its agency, and its results.
The same Divine character is stamped upon this miracle and its lessons by the number of disciples who were present when it was wrought. There were seven. And the seven is divided into 3 and 4 as usual3 being named, and 4 unnamed.
The one lesson that remains is true, namely, that the whole number of the redeemed are saved by the power of the Triune God.
We may condense all this by calling 153 simply,
The expression Myhl)h ynb (Beni Ha-Elohim), "Sons of God," occurs seven times!*
* One of them is slightly different, yh-l) ynb (Beni El-hai), "sons of the living God." Thus the human and divine element is seen in the six and seven (see p. 164).Now the gematria of this expression is exactly 153. Thus:
In Greek, the expression exhibits in another form the same phenomena, the gematria being 3213, or 3 x 7 x 153.
It is very remarkable, in connection with this, that in Job 2:1 we have "Beni-ha Elohim with Satan among them." The gematria of this phrase is 1989, and the two factors of this number are 153 and 13 (13x153=1989).
The word sunklhronomoi (sunkleeronomoi), "joint-heirs" (Rom 8:17), amounts to 1071, the factors of which are 153 and 7 (153x7=1071).
The expression suklhronomoi de Cristou (sunkleeronomoi de Christou), "joint heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17), amounts to 2751. Now the factors of 153, as we have seen, are 9 and 17, and the number 2751 is three times the nine hundred, plus seventeen, viz., 3 x (900 + 17) = 2751.
The expression ktisiV qeou (ktisis Theou), "the creation of God," is 1224, or 8 x 153.
In the record of the miracle itself there are some remarkable phenomena:
Quite a new thought has recently been given by Lieut.-Col. F. Roberts, who finds that amongst the multitudes who received direct blessing from Christ there are recorded exactly 153 special individual cases! We append his list, with one or two alterations: and if any names appear to be missing, it will be found on examination that there is good reason for omitting them; e.g., Nathanael is the same as Bartholomew; while Matthias, and Barsabas (Acts 1:23), Joses, Barnabas (Acts 4:36), Stephen, though they with many others may have received blessing from Jesus Himself, and probably did, yet it is not so stated. Of course Zacharias, Elisabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna, are not included, as they were all in blessing before the birth of Jesus.
The word for "fishes" icqueV (ichthues), is by gematria 1224, or 8 x 153.
The words for "the net" are to diktuon, and by gematria this also amounts to 1224, or 8 x 153, for it is unbroken, and carries the precious freight from "the right side" of the ship safely to the shore, and "not one is lost."
The following is the list:
* Bartimeus being one of them (Mark 10:46), these two being healed as Jesus left Jericho.We give the above not as an alternative solution, but as an additional illustration, believing that all may be true; and at any rate, that all contribute to, and increase the cumulative evidence in support of the same great and blessed fact, that it is true of the Lord's people as it is of the stars, "He calleth them all by their names" (Psa 147:4). The book of Exodus is the book in which we first hear of redemption (Exo 15:14), and the Hebrew and divinely canonical name for this book is "THE NAMES," because His people are redeemed by name!
** The blind man (No. 36) was healed (Luke 18:35) "as He was come nigh unto Jericho," and therefore is additional to the two who were healed as He was leaving Jericho (No. 16). See Matt 20:30; Mark 10:46.
This is the lesson of the 153 great fishes.
Witness of the Stars
E. W. Bullinger
Here we have set before us a mighty man, called in the Hebrew Peretz, from which we have the Greek form Perses, or Perseus (Rom 16:13). It is the same word which is used of Christ in Micah 2:13. When He shall surely "gather the remnant of Israel" (v 12), it is written--
This is what is pictured to us here. We see a glorious "Breaker" taking His place before His redeemed, breaking forth at their head, breaking down all barriers, and breaking the heads of Leviathan and all his hosts. In His right hand He has His "sore, and great, and strong sword" lifted up to smite and break down the enemy. He has wings on His feet, which tell us that He is coming very swiftly. In His left hand He carries the head of the enemy, whom he has slain.
In the Denderah Zodiac His Name is Kar Knem, he who fights and subdues.
It is a beautiful constellation of 59 stars, two of which are of the 2nd magnitude, four of the 3rd, twelve of the 4th, etc.
Their names supply us with the key to the interpretation of the picture.
The star a (in the waist) is called Mirfak, who helps. The next, g (in the right shoulder), is named Al Genib, which means who carries away. The bright star in the left foot is called Athik, who breaks!
In his left hand he carries a head, which, by perversion, the Greeks called the head of Medusa, being ignorant that its Hebrew root meant the trodden under foot. It is also called Rosh Satan (Hebrew), the head of the adversary, and Al Oneh (Arabic), the subdued, or Al Ghoul, the evil spirit.
The bright star, b (in this head), has come down to us with the name Al Gol, which means rolling round.
It is a most remarkable phenomenon that so many of these enemies should be characterised by variable stars! But this head of Medusa, like the neck of Cetus, has one. Al Gol is continually changing. In about 69 hours it changes from the 4th magnitude to the 2nd. During four hours of this period it gradually diminishes in brightness, which it recovers in the succeeding four hours; and in the remaining part of the time invariably preserves its greatest lustre. After the expiration of this time its brightness begins to decrease again. Fit emblem of our great enemy, who, "like a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8); then changing into a subtle serpent (Gen 3:8); then changing again into "an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14). "Transforming himself" continually, to devour, deceive, and destroy.
Perseus - son of Zeus (king of Greek gods) and a mortal woman.
Saves Andromeda from dragon named Draco.
Colossians 1:26, 27 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:Holmes, Sherlock - "A brilliant London-based detective, Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess, and is renowned for his skillful use of "deductive reasoning" while using abductive reasoning (inference to the best explanation) and astute observation to solve difficult cases. He is arguably the most famous fictional detective ever created, and is one of the best known and most universally recognisable literary characters in any genre." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes)
1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Active Sherlockian Societies in Australia, Belgium Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Wales. (http://members.cox.net/sherlock1/three.txt)
2007 Notes on Revelation
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