Irene Worthington Baron


Mark 13:24     Astronomical Explanation
Irene Baron:

The Living Bible:

24After the tribulation ends, then the sun will grow dim and the moon will not shine

King James Version:

24But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.

There are many science explanations for this verse. One is an astronomy version. Several astronomy factors to be considered in this verse.

The word tribulation refers to suffering, hardship, or a difficult time. After there is a time of tribulation, there is going to be something happening with the Sun and Moon. The verse states the Sun will grow dim and the Moon will not shine.

What the verse is referring to is a solar eclipse. Since the verse states only that the Sun will grow dim and not grow totally dark, it is referring to a partial solar eclipse.  When a solar eclipse occurs, the Moon moves in front of the Sun and blocks the sunlight. If it is partially blocked out, the Sun will appear as though it is becoming dim.

Anyone not versed in astronomy, or familiar with the movements of the Sun and Moon, would have no idea that the Moon is moving in front of the Sun. They wouldn’t know about the Moon as it would not be visible to people on Earth. At that time in its revolution, or orbit around the Earth, the Moon is between the Sun and the Earth. The only way anyone on Earth can see the Moon is if sunlight is shining on it or illuminating it.  Sunlight hits the Moon and is reflected off it.  If that reflected light, called moonshine, hits your eyes, you can see the Moon.

The Moon is not luminous. It does not give off light like a burning star. The Moon is visible because it is illuminated. It is only visible when lit up with sunlight.  Half of the Moon is always lit with sunlight just as Earth is. The whole lit side of the Moon is not always visible to us on Earth. When the whole lit side is visible, that phase is called the Full Moon. All the phases are usually named: New Moon, First Crescent, First Quarter, First Gibbous, Full Moon, Last Gibbous, Last Quarter, Last Crescent. The Moon takes 27 1/3-days to make one revolution around the Earth.

When the Moon is between the Sun and Earth, it is in the New Moon phase.  In the New Moon phase the whole lit side of the Moon is facing away from Earth.  No one on earth can see the lit side of the Moon during New Moon phase.

There are a few instances when the dark side of the Moon facing Earth can be seen during the New Moon phase. Sunlight that hits the Earth and bounces off, or reflected into space, is called earthshine. Sometimes earthshine is reflected onto the Moon during the New Moon phase, faintly illuminating the Moon. The sunlight hits the Earth, is reflected to the surface of the Moon, and is reflected once again off the Moon to Earth. At that time you may see the Moon if you look carefully. It will be very dim and not noticeable.

 Mark-13:24-Astronomy-ExplanationThe illustration shows the position of the Sun, Moon and Earth during a total solar eclipse.  Eclipses of the Sun or Moon can only occur when the Moon crosses the ecliptic.  Line AB in the illustration shows the position of the ecliptic plane. This is a line extended outward from the Suns’ equator.

To describe the ecliptic in a different way, imagine what a DVD disk looks like. Next, imagine the Sun fitting in the center hole of the DVD. The DVD would represent the plane of the ecliptic where the equator of the Sun is extended outward in all directions. Most of the planets orbit the Sun along that ecliptic plane.

The darkest part of the Moons’ shadow, the umbra, is labeled in the illustration. Notice the tip of the Moons’ umbra touches Earth. The size of the Moons’ shadow touching Earth during a solar eclipse is about 146-miles in diameter. To be able to see the total solar eclipse, you would have to be in the umbra, the Moons’ shadow.

During a total solar eclipse, the whole Sun is blocked out. When that happens, the sky appears like it would at midnight. To everyone outside the umbra, as the Bible verse states, the “Sun would grow dim” but not disappear. The verse is thus showing most persons would be outside the umbra and witness the dimming of the Sun. They would not see the Moon due to it being in the New Moon phase. Thus the Moon will “not shine” or “give her light.”

Verse 24 in the 13th chapter of Mark refers to a partial solar eclipse.

 Permission given for use of Bible verse quotes by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Holy Bible, People’s Parallel Large Print Edition, King James Version and The Living Bible

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