By August 27th, the planet Mars will be at magnitude -2.9 (The lower the magnitude the brighter) and will be brighter than any star and the second brightest planet. Eclipsed in brightness only by the Sun, Moon and the planet Venus (when Venus can be seen). Since Mars can be seen at night while the planet Venus can only be seen at dawn or dusk it (Mars) is certainly the brightest object (except the Moon of course) in the nighttime sky.

Furthermore, scientists say that Mars will be the brightest than its ever been in 60,000 years (which certainly means that it will shine the brightest since the fall of Adam and the Earth's "temporal" existence). In other words, never, since the Fall of Adam has the planet Mars shone with such brightness. Which brings up some interesting questions.

Since the planets and the stars were created, not only to be of benefit to man for telling time (seasons, days and years) but also to stand as "signs" (Genesis 1: 14) as well (For instance, Christ is compared to the planet Venus--the bright and morning star and you'll recall the "star" which appeared at the birth of Christ), is there any significance to the fact that by the end of August Mars will be the brightest it has ever been in human history? Is it, in other words, a "sign" of the times?

Here is my take on the matter (pure conjecture). The planet Mars is the Roman god of war. Mars is also red, symbolic of blood. Could the brightness of Mars could be symbolic or a harbinger of the wars that are to be poured out very shortly upon this earth?

Or, could Mars be playing out a grand spectacular nighttime drama--symbolic of the struggle between Christ and Satan? In other words, Is Mars playing the role of the great usurper--challenging Christ (The Planet Venus) for supremacy. Mars rules the night (symbolic itself of Satan and his darkness) but never quite attains the brightness of the planet Venus. Is Mars symbolic of Satan when he appeared to Moses, appearing as an angel of "light" but because Satan's light was more or less that of darkness (Moses 1: 13-14) Moses was able to detect Satan as the deceiver and usurper that he was?

These are just a few of the thoughts and questions that I've pondered the last few weeks. What do you think? Does the brightness of Mars (by the end of August) stand as a "sign" of the times?

-- Steven Montgomery [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Recall the new star that announced the birth at Bethlehem? It was in its precise orbit long before it so shone. We are likewise placed in human orbits to illuminate. Divine correlation functions not only in the cosmos but on this planet, too. After all, the Book of Mormon plates were not buried in Belgium, only to have Joseph Smith born centuries later in distant Bombay. (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Conference Report, Saturday Morning, Oct 2002)

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