One day last fall I was working in my office when my desk phone rang. It was a reader of The Catholic Astronomer, calling me with a question. He asked why the Vatican Observatory blog was full of discussion on black holes or whatnot, when there was something much more momentous to talk about.
It turns out that the momentous thing to which my caller was referring was an arrangement of celestial bodies that will occur this year (2017) on September 23. On that date, according to various Internet sources, the heavens themselves will be a tableau of Revelation 12 in the Bible:
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth … She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
On September 23, 2017 the sun will be in the zodiac constellation Virgo — “a woman clothed with the sun”. The moon will be at the feet of Virgo — “with the moon under her feet”. The ‘nine’ stars of the zodiac constellation Leo, plus three planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars), will be at the head of Virgo — “on her head a crown of 12 stars”. The planet Jupiter will be in the center of Virgo, and, as the weeks pass after September 23, Jupiter will exit Virgo to the east, past her feet, so to speak — “She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth”. Jupiter is the largest of the planets, the “king” of the planets, so to speak — “She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod”.
Must this not be a sign of something momentous, as the Internet sources say? In fact, after researching it, I found that, in only the past 1,000 years, this same arrangement in the sky has happened at least four times, in 1827, 1483, 1293, and 1056.
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.
My caller was familiar with the Stellarium sky software. He could call up the skies of September 23, 2017 on Stellarium and see for himself that this celestial arrangement was a real thing. His was a reasonable question. Scientists need to be able to answer questions people have like this one, without treating the questions as nonsense, because the questions will not go away just because they are dismissed. And thus before long I was having a nice conversation with the caller, and I ended up telling him I would look into his question, and write a post on this topic.
But I said it was unlikely to be the post he was looking for. He was OK with that.
And so, Mr. Caller:
First, in one year, thanks to the Earth’s annual orbit, the sun travels the entirety of the ecliptic, and thus passes through every one of the 12 constellations of the zodiac. The sun is in Virgo every September.
Second, in one month the moon goes through its cycle of phases, and travels the entirety of the ecliptic, and thus passes through every constellation of the zodiac—all owed to the period of the moon’s orbit being one month. Therefore there is always a day or two every year when the sun is in Virgo and the moon is just to the east of Virgo (just past the “feet”).
So, the celestial “woman clothed with the sun with the moon at her feet” is as common in September as is the U.S. holiday of Labor Day.
But what of the crown of 12 “stars,” comprised of three planets and the nine stars of Leo? The response to this question is another question — why nine stars in Leo? There are many more than nine stars in Leo. Those nine are just brighter ones that are often depicted as comprising the general outline or shape of the constellation. But in fact there are scads of stars in Leo and surrounding the “head” of Virgo.
And not all depictions of Leo show those nine as its outline. Some show the outline of Leo as consisting of 10 stars, for example. That would give Virgo a crown of 13 stars here!
And yes, multiple planets being at Virgo’s head while Jupiter is in Virgo’s center and the moon is at Virgo’s feet is somewhat unusual. But it is not that unusual. The period of Jupiter’s orbit is a little less than 12 years, and therefore Jupiter will be in Virgo (with the sun there, too, and the moon at the feet) once every 11 or 12 years.
So the sun in Virgo, the moon at Virgo’s “feet”, and Jupiter in the constellation are regular occurrences. This leaves the planets at the “head” (the number depending on the number of stars granted to Leo) as the determining factor in making a “momentous” celestial arrangement. Indeed – while various Internet sources speak of the specific celestial arrangement here as being “unique in human history” or “once in 7,000 years” – in fact, it is not unique to September 23, 2017.
This basic arrangement happened before — in September 1827, in September 1483, in September 1293, and in September 1056. These are all shown at the end of this post. I only searched back one thousand years, from 2017 to 1017 — there are undoubtedly other examples outside of that time period, and probably a couple examples that I missed within that time period.
No doubt someone could go diving into the history books to scrounge up some events from 1827, 1483, 1293, and 1056 that the September skies of those years supposedly foretold. That’s the way it is with astrology. A person reads his or her daily horoscope and finds that it says “obstacles will be placed in your path today.” Then, that person picks those instances of getting stuck in traffic, or in a long line at the grocery store, or wherever, and says “hey, that horoscope was right,” when, of course, we all encounter such things every day.
It is true that astrology — reading the heavens for signs — is something astronomers used to believe was valid (or, my guess is that many of them pretended to believe it was valid, because it paid the bills). But astrology has been found to have no more scientific basis than Harry Potter’s wand. It doesn’t work (something that does not seem to hinder its popularity). If astrology had anything going for it, astronomers would not need to go begging for money to fund astronomical research. We could just use our astronomical knowledge to divine which way the stock market was going, invest accordingly, become “astronomically” wealthy, and fund astronomical research from our surplus.
As it is, watching the heavens for signs of what is to come is a waste of time. And it is doubly a waste of time because “signs in the sky” appeal, for some reason, to all sorts of people out there — all of whom can use Stellarium to find this or that momentous “sign” signifying whatever they want to signify.
And that is why astronomers ignore the seemingly momentous celestial arrangement of September 23, 2017, and talk instead about black holes or whatnot.
Bottom line: From the standpoint of astronomy, there’s nothing unique or unusual about the sun, moon and planets – or the constellation Virgo – on September 23, 2017, despite claims on the Internet of a unique and significant celestial event, supposedly “mirroring” the Bible’s Book of Revelation. In the past 1,000 years, this same event has happened at least four times already, in 1827, 1483, 1293, and 1056.
|Duration (tropical, western)||August 23 – September 23 (2022, UT1)|
The twelve stars above her head apply to both the twelve patriarchs of the tribes of Israel (original people of God), and the twelve apostles (renewed people of God). Of course, this symbolism has been interpreted in different and more subjective ways, especially for various devotional forms.What constellations are mentioned in the Bible? ›
- Kimah, the Pleiades.
- Kesil, Orion.
- Ash, or Ayish, the Hyades.
- Mezarim, the Bears (Great and Little)
- Mazzaroth, Venus (Lucifer and Hesperus)
- Hadre theman -- "the chambers of the south" -- Canopus, the Southern Cross, and α Centauri.
- Nachash, Draco.
The coronated Blessed Virgin Mary in heaven depicted as the "woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Revelations 12:1).What is significant about September 23rd? ›
1862 – US President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation is published in northern newspapers.What does it mean to be born on September 23? ›
Libras born on September 23 are energetic fact-finders. These highly verbal people combine a love of learning with good taste -- the hallmark of their sign. September 23 people manage to project an image of seriousness while still maintaining their charm.What does 12 stars mean spiritually? ›
The biblical reference is that of Revelation 12:1b conjuring up the “great sign of the woman in the sky, … clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Twelve is a number of perfection; it symbolizes the twelve tribes of the Old Testament people and the twelve apostles ...What do the 12 stars symbolize? ›
It features a circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background. They stand for the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe. The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of member countries, though the circle is a symbol of unity.What does the moon represent in the Bible? ›
Biblical references use the moon symbol to highlight cosmic events, divine epiphanies and the ephemeral nature of human life and history (see, for example, Isaiah 30,26; 60,19; Revelations 21,23).What Zodiac is Jesus? ›
With the story of the birth of Christ coinciding with this date, many Christian symbols for Christ use the astrological symbol for Pisces, the fishes. The figure Christ himself bears many of the temperaments and personality traits of a Pisces, and is thus considered an archetype of the Piscean.
Bible verses related to astrology
Isaiah 47:13, “You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you.”
There are later descriptions of creatures in the Bible that could be referring to dinosaurs. One example is the behemoth of Job 40:15-19. Even in fairly modern history there are reports of creatures which seem to fit the description of dinosaurs.Who is the great dragon in the Bible? ›
The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.Who was the dragon in the Bible? ›
Abstract. In the Hebrew Bible, Yahweh is often depicted as a divine warrior, executing vengeance against his enemies. Some of these texts employ the image of Yahweh as a dragon-like creature who pours forth smoke from his nostrils and fire from his mouth.Who is the dragon in Revelation? ›
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.What famous people were born September 23? ›
September 23Who was born on Sept 23? ›
More celebrities with birthdays today
Actor Paul Petersen (“The Donna Reed Show”) is 77. Actor-singer Mary Kay Place is 75. Director George C. Wolfe (film's “Nights in Rodanthe,” stage's “Angels in America”) is 68.
Daily Calendar for Friday, September 23, 2022.What is the color for September 23? ›
|Alternative Birthstone||Lapis lazuli|
In terms of your love compatibility with other zodiacs, your ideal love match could be with an Aquarius, Sagittarius, Gemini and Taurus male. A Libra woman and an Aquarius man are considered one of the best matches among all-star signs.
The number 12 is mentioned often in the New Testament of the Bible, such as Jesus' selection of 12 apostles, he said. That choice was deliberate, with each apostle representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel, said Reed, a professor emeritus of pastoral theology and research.What do stars in the sky symbolize? ›
Stars are symbolic of divinity with a belief being that the countless stars we see in the distance are fallen angels cast out from heaven. For this reason, stars can often be seen referenced as divine light. The Christian Bible can also be seen to reference angels as symbols of stars.What does star of the Sea mean biblically? ›
The biblical and/or theological foundation of this title (Mary, Star of the Sea) may be based on 1 Kings 18:41-45. This text refers to a little cloud appearing above the sea as a sign of hope, implying that rain will come and free the land from drought.Why does the Virgin Mary have 12 stars? ›
The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of member countries, though the circle is a symbol of unity. Arsène Heitz, one of the flag designers, in 1987 revealed that his inspiration was the crown of twelve stars of the Woman of the Apocalypse, often found in modern Marian iconography.What does the sun symbolize in the Bible? ›
In the first of these Bible passages, the sun is used to describe God, who is good, while the second tells us that the sun won't harm us.Is Mary the Queen of Heaven in the Bible? ›
It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and the heavenly king of the universe; indeed, the Davidic tradition of Israel recognized the mother of the king as the Queen Mother of Israel.What did Jesus say about the moon? ›
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord.” – Acts 2:20.What does moon mean spiritually? ›
The Moon represents the physical as well as the emotional body. The full Moon is a time to be receptive, to take the light and awareness of spirit into your emotional and physical body.Which God does the moon represent? ›
Selene, (Greek: “Moon”) Latin Luna, in Greek and Roman religion, the personification of the moon as a goddess. She was worshipped at the new and full moons.
Season 1 Episode 33 | 4m 18s | Jesus' name in Hebrew was “Yeshua” which translates to English as Joshua. So how did we get the name “Jesus”?What is Jesus last name? ›
What was Jesus's Real Name? - YouTubeWhen was Jesus's real birthday? ›
The date of birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical reference, but most biblical scholars assume a year of birth between 6 and 4 BC.Should Christians believe in zodiac signs? ›
The Bible strongly forbids astrology as it considers it a form of divination as the word of God puts it in Deuteronomy 18:10-14.Why did God create stars? ›
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.What does the Bible say about tattoos? ›
Today they're common everywhere from Maori communities in New Zealand to office parks in Ohio. But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.”Does the Bible say anything about cremation? ›
The Bible does not clearly define about cremation as a means to dispose of the dead. However, there is no scriptural prohibition of cremation in the New Testament. The Bible neither favors nor forbids the process of cremation.Did humans and dinosaurs live at the same time? ›
No! After the dinosaurs died out, nearly 65 million years passed before people appeared on Earth.Where does the Bible say the Earth's age? ›
Concerning the age of the Earth, the Bible's genealogical records combined with the Genesis 1 account of creation are used to estimate an age for the Earth and universe of about 6000 years, with a bit of uncertainty on the completeness of the genealogical records, allowing for a few thousand years more.What constellation is for September? ›
The constellations best seen in September are Capricornus, Cygnus, Delphinus, Equuleus, Indus, Microscopium and Vulpecula. Cygnus, Delphinus, Vulpecula and Equuleus are northern constellations, while Capricornus, Microscopium and Indus are located in the southern sky.
|Constellation||Astrology Date||True Date|
|Aries||March 21 - April 20||April 19 - May 13|
|Taurus||April 21 - May 21||May 14 - June 19|
|Gemini||May 22 - June 21||June 20 - July 20|
|Cancer||June 22 - July 22||July 21 - August 9|
As darkness gathers on early September evenings, the Big Dipper appears in the northwest, about 30 degrees above the horizon. Composed of the brightest stars of the Great Bear, Ursa Major, an ancient constellation, the Big Dipper is an asterism, a star pattern made up of stars of one or more constellations.What does Libra look like in the sky? ›
The star pattern we call Libra is a small but distinct constellation next to the constellation Virgo in the evening sky. It looks very much like a lopsided diamond or crooked box and is visible in the northern hemisphere between April and July. Libra is most visible directly overhead at midnight in June.Where is Libra in the sky? ›
Libra, (Latin: “Balance”) in astronomy, zodiacal constellation in the southern sky lying between Scorpius and Virgo, at about 15 hours 30 minutes right ascension and 15° south declination.Where can Libra be seen? ›
Libra can be seen in the summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. However, it is not easily identified in the night sky because it has few very bright stars.Which planet is September? ›
September 5 – Venus and Mars
the planet and star stand seven degrees above the horizon. In the evening, look for Mars. During September, it rises in the east about three and half hours after sunset and reaches its highest point in the sky just before dawn.
Friday, September 30, 2022: A crescent Moon and Antares
The brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius, Antares is a red supergiant star that's often confused with Mars.
No matter where you are, no matter what time of year it is, Orion's Belt always points to Sirius. Orion returned the sky before dawn in late July and early August. In September, you can easily find this large constellation before sunup. Just look in the eastern part of the sky.What Are Big Three signs? ›
Your Big 3 in astrology refers to your Sun sign, your moon sign, and your rising sign.What are all of my signs? ›
- Aries: March 21 – April 19.
- Taurus: April 20 – May 20.
- Gemini: May 21 – June 20.
- Cancer: June 21 – July 22.
- Leo: July 23 – August 22.
- Virgo: August 23 – September 22.
- Libra: September 23 – October 22.
- Scorpio: October 23 – November 21.
Located around 190 light-years from Earth, is found in Libra.What is the myth of the Big Dipper? ›
In Arabian lore, the Big Dipper is associated with funerals. The bowl represents a coffin and the three stars in the handle are mourners following behind it. Stories in some Native American groups saw the stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper as a bear, while the stars in the handle are hunters chasing it.What is in the sky September 2022? ›
As we go through September 2022, we can enjoy Jupiter at its best this month. Along with Jupiter, Saturn will visible west of Jupiter. By Midnight, Mars will also be visible rising in the east. Most of 2022, those interested in planets had to wake up early.What is the brightest star in the sky tonight? ›
Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. UPDATE: This article was published in January 2022—if you're reading this in August/September 2022 then here's what you need to know about the very bright “star” in the east after dark.