Thursday, June 1, 2017

Revelation XII, the Vatican Observatory, & an Anti-Elitist Professor

On September 23rd, MMXVII, will we see in the skies the "great sign" of "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars," "with child and wail[ing] aloud in pain as she labor[s] to give birth… to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod" — Biblical signs in the sky?

Perhaps so, but "this same event has happened at least four times already, in 1827, 1483, 1293, and 1056," as Prof. Christopher M. Graney says in his EarthSky article, which was in response to a question from "a reader of The Catholic Astronomer… ask[ing] why the Vatican Observatory blog was full of discussion on black holes or whatnot, when there was something much more momentous to talk about."

Hats off to the good professor for respectfully addressing the question; as he notes:
    Now, I know that the readers of this blog are diverse. People with interest in astronomy are a diverse group! And you all will have diverse reactions to this question. Some of you are probably saying right now, “what a bunch of nonsense!” Others of you may be thinking that my caller had a good point, and you would like to learn more. Fortunately, I am a community college professor! Community college people are the ‘A-Team’ of the academic world (as in B.A., Hannibal, and the crew from the TV show and the movie — who are tougher than anyone else and able to save the day using duct tape, PVC pipe, and a butane lighter). We thrive on diversity! No question phases us!

    We know that there are a lot of smart people out there who have not had much formal education in a topic like astronomy, and that interest in questions like this reflects a basic interest in astronomy combined with interest in religion and scripture.

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