ASTRONOMERS predict a nova will light up our night skies in 2022. Now an ultra-Orthodox Jewish Rabbi says it will herald the coming of their long-awaited messiah. And Donald Trump is the harbinger of doom.
That’s a lot of fuss being tied to a little extra light in the night sky. Even though the actual cataclysmic event is of interstellar proportions.
At the heart of the matter is KIC 9832227, a dull star in the constellation of Cygnus.
It’s about to blow.
What’s different about this one is science knows when it’s going to happen. And it will be noticeable to the naked eye.
But the idea that the will of the gods is written in the heavens was common in the ancient world. Comets — and nova — were particularly portentous.
It’s a notion that lingers on.
KIC 9832227 is just the latest event being exploited by a chain of astrological predictions of impending doom.
The Mayan calendar predicted Bolon Yokte K’Uh (a god of the underworld) would turn up at the end of 2012 — supposedly marking the end of time. A string of ‘blood moons’ in 2015 was said by US evangelicals to herald Armageddon. Then there’s the invisible planet Nibiru — already supposed to have crashed into Earth any number of times since the idea first emerged in 1995.
This time the prophecy concerns the arrival of the Jewish messiah. It’s a prophecy that claims Donald Trump’s surprise victory to become President of the United States was written in the heavens — and leads to the ultimate victory of Israel over its enemies.
PAWNS OF PROPHECY
The notion of a bright star leading the world into a new future is one well grounded in Jewish and Christian lore. In the Christian Gospel of Matthew, the three wise men see the light of a guiding star as the fulfilment of prophecy — and are led to the baby Jesus.
Now a Jewish rabbi says the same thing is about to happen again. (Or for the first time. Depending upon your faith.)
Controversial ultra-Orthodox Rabbai Yosef Berger has been awaiting the coming of his religion’s messiah all his life. He is the rabbi overseeing one of Judaism’s most holy sites — the Tomb of King David on Mount Zion (in Jerusalem’s old city).
He wants Muslims expelled from Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock demolished. He wants a Third (Jewish) Temple erected in its place. He has even crafted an elaborate copy of the Torah to personally place in the son-of-god’s own hands.
Now he says the impending nova will be a sign of fulfilled prophecy.
“The Rambam (a 12th Century rabbi who helped shape modern Jewish lore) brings this verse about a star appearing as proof that the Messiah will come one day,” Rabbi Berger told Israeli media. “But he says it will come from Jacob, and not from Esau (the eldest son of the prophet Isaac). More specifically, from the tribe of Judah.”
He bases his argument on the Torah. Specifically, the Book of Numbers 24:17:
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near —
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the borderlands of Moab,
and the territory of all the Shethites.
It’s a prophecy essentially saying that a new Jewish leader will emerge in Israel who will lead it to world domination.
So which star will be that particular star?
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The Zohar, a collection of commentaries that define kabbalah, or Jewish mystical thought, outlines the astrology behind the prophecy.
“The Zohar states explicitly that the Messianic process will be accompanied by several stars appearing. The Zohar goes into great depth, describing how many stars, and which colours they will be,” Rabbi Berger says.
Prophetic nova-like stars are not restricted to the Torah. The Christian New Testament’s Book of 2 Peter 1:19 states:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Then there’s Revelations 22:16:
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
Whether KIC 9832227 foretells the first or second coming, therefore, is a matter of perspective.
CLASH OF TITANS
The inspiration behind this mystic interpretation is some solid science.
The January 7 meeting of the American Astronomical Society was told by astronomers from Calvin College in Michigan that a nondescript star in the Cygnus constellation will likely become one of the brightest objects in the sky.
KIC 9832227 is actually not one star. It’s two.
One is about the third of the size of our Sun. The other is roughly 40 per cent bigger. They’re orbiting each other so close that their superheated atmospheres are actually touching each other.
New observations reveal the stars are in an accelerating death spiral — constantly winding faster and closer. At the moment, that orbit is once every 11 hours.
Soon the cores must tear each other apart.
The fragments will then fall together, forming the heart of a new star.
The Calvin College astronomers say they know when this will happen.
It’s an event that has been seen before. In 2008 a similar collision (V1309 Scorpii) produced what is called a red nova — a poorly understood phenomenon brighter than a standard nova but duller than a supernova.
Observations of the lead-up to that cataclysmic blast have been compared to KIC 9832227
“Based on an updated fit to the exponential formula, we now estimate the time of merger to be the year 2022.2 with a random uncertainty of 0.6 years,” the team reported.
That’s March 15, 2022 — with an error of margin of roughly six months.
Science also knows roughly what to expect: a steady doubling of the nova’s red light every 19 or so days as the outer layers of the stars are blasted out into space.
It’s a process likely to last about six months.