Back before I was a Christian, I had a whole grab-bag of colorful epithets, attention-getting exclamations and other ways of expressing extreme surprise and dismay. If there were an occasion to pull one out, like a committed former smoker grabbing for a pack of unfiltered Luckies before going into battle, this might be it…
A giant hexagonal formation, high up in Saturn’s arctic, the width of two earths, photographed by the Cassini spacecraft as the Northern Hemisphere of that giant ringed planet emerges into its spring-time. Same size and shape as it was 29 years ago when first observed by Voyager. I read the various conventional reports but was startled by what I found on NASA’s own website:
The six-sided shape remains a mystery. Scientists think the hexagon is a meandering jet stream at 77 degrees north latitude, but they don’t know what controls the path the stream takes. These images also show new phenomena for scientists to decipher, such as waves that can now be seen radiating from the corners of the hexagon where the jet takes its hardest turns. These images confirm the presence of a multi-walled structure in each of the hexagon’s six sides, and the structure now can be seen extending to the top of Saturn’s cloud layer. The images show that the inside of the hexagon is darker than the outside. The new images also show a large spot inside the hexagon that could be related to a dark spot seen inside the hexagon in 2006 in an image taken by Cassini’s VIMS instrument. An earlier Voyager mosaic showed a large spot outside the hexagon.
Last time I checked, winds (made up of any substance, fluid or gaseous) didn’t make sharp turns and keep on doing so for an entire generation unless something (e.g., a solid structure) were forcing them to do so. My only question: this or this?
Six is either 4 plus 2, i.e., man’s world (4) with man’s enmity to God (2) brought in: or it is 5 plus 1, the grace of God made of none effect by man’s addition to it, or perversion, or corruption of it: or it is 7 minus 1, i.e., man’s coming short of spiritual perfection. In any case, therefore, it has to do with man; it is the number of imperfection; the human number; the number of MAN as destitute of God, without God, without Christ.
As the Holy Spirit would have it, I tripped across another Saturn reference yesterday and have been racking my brains the last half hour trying to remember where I came across it. Turns out it’s in one of the only references to Saturn (albeit indirect) in the entire Bible. I read it yesterday in my OYB program before learning of this.
Just before the climax of his truth-telling speech to the Pharisees that resulted in his martyrdom-by-stoning, Stephen says, in Acts 7:41-43:
And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’
He’s quoting from Amos 5:24-27, the first part of which was made famous by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his 1963 “I have a Dream” speech on the Mall in Washington. The prophet Amos relays God saying:
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god–your images that you made for yourselves, and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus, says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.
Now everyone here should know by now that I’m a huge supporter of Israel the nation, the Jewish people in general, and many, many Jews in particular. But, sorry to say, the six-pointed star thing is not “of David” but, depending on who you read, at best a pagan symbol adopted some time in the Middle Ages and, at worst, deeply satanic, and (drum-roll please) closely linked with the planet Saturn.
Amos’ rendition as כִּיּוּן or ‘Kiyyun’ is described in Strong’s (H3594) as:
“probably a statue of the Assyrian-Babylonian god of the planet Saturn and used to symbolise Israelite apostasy.”
Stephen’s rendition as Ῥαιφάν or ‘Rephan’ (alternatively, ‘Remphan’) is described in Strong’s (G4481) in pretty much the same way:
“the shrunken (as lifeless)… the name of an idol worshipped [sic] by the Israelites in the wilderness, i.e., the planet Saturn, regarded by the Phoenicio-Shemitic people as an evil demon to be appeased by expiatory sacrifice… [or] and Egyptian name for Saturn”
So how could it be that a geometric formation on a planet so far away (i.e., where AFAIK, even the rings were not visible until telescopes were invented, and features on this much-smaller albeit still-grand scale were only seen once we flew spacecraft out there) would have the same six-sided shape as in ancient myths about the same planet?
My first thought was that crystals have geometric shapes, as do hydrocarbons. As I recall from my pre-med roommates suffering through organic chemistry long, long ago, hydrocarbons tend to have hexagonal structures on a molecular level, which, in a hyper-cold environment, might be reflected in solid mineral form at larger scales. That is, they might form crystalline substances that at Earth temperatures would be gasses or liquids but which, out there could be, essentially, rock. If that’s the case, this is one seriously big-honkin’ crystal — over 15,000 miles in diameter.
Nevertheless, it is possible. Go look at satellite photos of Namibia and the sand dunes there and you’ll probably find some remarkable triangles formed by wind blowing on sand for a very long time. (I did a research paper on them back in the days when that entailed walking to the library and poring through books for hours and hours).
Before we go embarrassing and/or frightening ourselves with theories about our Pentagon military headquarters and some alien’s Hexagon headquarters (because together it makes eleven and that’s louder…) we ought to at least entertain the hypothesis that this does not involve any alien intelligence.
Even so, that kind of inquiry would merely provide a theory of how this thing formed. If it proves to be natural, that still does not explain how knowledge of the hexagonal imagery (i.e., the ‘six-ness’ of it) made it from Saturn to Earth in such a powerful way as to be reflected (and, in fact, widely worshiped, even by the Israelites who had plenty of reason to know better) in those long-ago legends across, it would seem, different regions and cultures (see above).
Calling that part of it coincidence seems like a bit of a stretch. If you were to show a kid a hazy-small image of the planet Saturn taken from a cheap (or primitive) telescope, a hexagon is not necessarily the first thing she’d come up with. Cigar: maybe. Jelly donut: possible. Hexagon and demon worship? No.
The possibilities for how that hexagonal idea could have cropped-up in myth are myriad, however they would seem to all involve, in either, a) bringing the planets closer (seems unlikely), b) somebody from one going to the other (and, if the trip started here, coming back to report on it), c) advanced visual technology, such as strong telescopes, or their equivalent that would allow one to see at a distance or, d) the transmission of signals from there and their reception here.
All at least 2,500 years ago…
Among those four possibilities, ancient telescopes seem the least wild, but I’m not aware of any optics technology that comes even remotely close to solving the problem that would have existed back then. There’s some evidence of extremely primitive eyeglasses around the time Christ walked the earth, but that’s it. And even so: if someone did create a super-powerful telescope back then (and keep in mind WE didn’t even see this thing until Voyager did a fly-by thirty years ago), how does that knowledge spin itself into a pervasive and powerful religious system?
Then, of course, there is the spiritual realm and the other physical dimensions of hyperspace (perhaps the same thing). They are, by definition, not limited by our measly three. Bottom line: We’re going to have to wait and see…
As a former sci-fi fan, it does have eerie echoes of 2001 a Space Odyssey and the whole monolith, dawn-of-a-new era and “age of man” because of the discovery of geometric structures left by alien intelligence on one of the gas giants. Woo woo!
UPDATE: Some quick math on the difficulty of seeing a feature of this size at this distance just to put things in perspective…
NASA tells us that, “The planet can be seen from Earth with the unaided eye, but its rings cannot. Saturn was the farthest planet from Earth that the ancient astronomers knew about.”
Britannica says that Saturn’s “proximity to Earth is never less than about 1.2 billion km (746 million miles)…”
So, the conundrum is how someone here on earth might see a structure that’s between 15,000 and 20,000 miles in diameter, at a distance of not less than 746 million miles — and not only make it out, but discern that it is specifically hexagonal and not just some roughly round blemish/blob.
Doing some basic math (ratio of 20,000 to 746 million) tells us that the equivalent viewing problem, here on earth, would be that of seeing an object just 2.7 millimeters across at a distance of 100 meters. That’s about half the size of a typical pea.
In other words, not taking into account the very real issues of refraction, diffusion, knowing where and when to look, dim lighting and low contrast, all of which make the problem significantly harder, learning that this object on Saturn was hexagonal would be the equivalent of looking at an ordinary garden pea, at a distance of 200 meters, and discerning that it was dried (with precisely six flattened sides) and not fresh (i.e., with a round profile).
Which explains why, even with modern telescopes, nobody noticed this thing until we sent a spacecraft within 63,000 miles of the planet… and keeps the question of why “six-ness”, hexagonality and demon worship were associated with this planet thousands of years before any telescopes even existed.