NASA scientist Bill Cooke says they “defy explanation”.
“Everything we learn about [them] seems to deepen the mystery,” Cooke wrote in 2010.
Their top speed is some 78,000 miles per hour. At their peak, up to a hundred of them can be seen blazing through Earth’s atmosphere in just one hour.
And right at this very moment, these heavenly ambassadors are racing down to earth in all their splendid, enigmatic luminosity, right above your head.
If you’re a night owl or an early riser and can stay up late tonight or get up around three a.m. tomorrow, and if you can get away from the city lights and look west toward the constellation of Gemini, you’ll see them.
Sounds like some ancient, elegiac race of giants, doesn’t it?
Well, they’re ancient, to be sure. But they aren’t giants.
They’re meteors. Tiny bits of rock believed to come from a strange asteroid-like object called 3200 Phaethon. It’s not a comet and some are hesitant to even call it an asteroid due to its unusual behavior. It’s a “rock” of some sort which astronomers believe weighs only about a hundred pounds.
The “mystery” of the Geminid Meteor shower is that it’s one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year in terms of the amount of meteors it produces. Yet it hardly seems possible that so much material could be coming from such a small object. Where’s all the stuff coming from then?
“We just don’t know,” said Cooke.
Ok, but here’s where I think it gets really interesting.
These meteors seem to shoot out from the constellation of Gemini, that’s why they’re called the Geminids.
And if one were to peel back all the layers of myth regarding the story of the constellation itself, I think there’s a possible explanation as to what the Geminids mean.
There are two dominant stars in the constellation, Pollux and Castor. These are the Roman names for the Greek characters of Apollo and Hercules. Pollux (Apollo) means Ruler or Judge. Castor (Hercules) means Laborer or Sufferer.
In Coptic (Egyptian) language Gemini was called Pi-mahi, which means The United. The Hebrew name for Gemini, Thaumim, also means The United.
A perusal of the numerous myths behind Gemini consistently reveal a unification of two distinct persons brought together in a singularly entity.
The “foot” of Pollux is a star called Alhena which means Hurt, Wounded, or Afflicted.
If you combine all these curious facts into a singular meaning you get something like this.
A Ruler who labors and suffers, united in one entity with a wounded foot (Genesis 3:15).
As Christian author Ken Fleming suggests, “It is another variation in Heaven’s most beautiful melody, the sufferings and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘He is the One in whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.’ (Acts 5:31 NASB).”
I mean, it gives you the shivers. Of course there’s no exact way to know for certain this is what God intended Gemini to mean. It is but one interpretation. But if the heavens declare the glory of God, why not think a bit more Christianly about the constellations?
Every year in mid-December, the Geminids burst forth from this constellation and folks all over the globe try to catch a glimpse of them.
What makes this year’s shower even more spectacular is that the planet Jupiter is in Gemini right now.
In Roman lore, Jupiter is the king of the gods and the father of Pollux and Castor.
God the Father, united with the Son. Perhaps the Geminids represent the Holy Spirit. I don’t know, but it gives me the shivers just thinking about it.
My goodness, do I really understand what I’m seeing? Do I really know or believe it’s more than just a bunch of luminous rock falling from the sky? Don’t I know this all actually means something?
“Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”
Mr. Cooke calls the Geminids a “mystery”.
But the “mystery” of the Geminids, in this humble layperson’s opinion, points to the Lord Jesus Christ, the “Rock” and the “Light” of our life. It’s a curious thing to me that 3200 Phaethon, the 100-pound rock from which the Geminids allegedly originate, is somewhat of a mystery for scientists! It’s the main reason the Geminids are Mr. Cooke’s favorite meteorological event of the year.
“The Geminids are my favorite,” he explains, “because they defy explanation.”
As Paul writes to the Ephesians, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
Science might not know precisely how the Geminid Meteor Shower does what it does, but Scripture declares that such displays of luminosity which capture the attention of people all over the planet declare the glory of God.
Gemini and His annual meteor shower do just that for those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear what creation sings!
If you catch a glimpse of the Geminids tonight, may they bring to mind the story of those ancient shepherds around whom the “glory of the Lord shone” that remarkable night some two thousand years ago.
Be cleansed by the Light of the Ancient of Days!
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”