Insight on the News
The Wrong Sign
“What’s your sign?” For the millions of people who consult “starsign” charts prepared by astrologers, that question is of major importance. They believe that the position of the stars, planets, sun, and moon with respect to the constellations of the zodiac at the time of birth directly influences a person’s life. However, according to the London daily Independent, astrologers are giving people the wrong sign. “Starsign” charts used for horoscopes are based on astrological “laws” drawn up some 2,000 years ago.
Says the Independent: “An astrologer will tell the parents of today’s newborn baby that he or she is a Cancer.” However, the report notes: “If they instead looked at the sun’s position in the sky, they would find that the sun is in fact in Gemini.” What accounts for this? Astronomers call it the “precession of the equinoxes,” a phenomenon in which the axis of the earth, in effect, wobbles much as does that of a top as it slows down. This precession, or “wobble,” completes a 360-degree cycle every 25,800 years, which means that the equinoxes advance 50 seconds of arc each year, or one degree in 72 years. Thus, in the past 2,000 years, the sun’s apparent position in the sky has slipped backward by one full sign of the zodiac. As a result, “a natal horoscope is not a real picture of the heavens at the moment of one’s birth,” explains Richard F. Smith in his book Prelude to Science. “Most of the Scorpios of this world,” he explains, “were really born when the sun was in Libra, most Leos are really Cancers, Cancers are Geminis, and so on.”
The unreliability of star charts and horoscopes only emphasizes the wisdom of looking to the Creator for guidance and not to the things he has created. (Romans 1:24, 25) However, an even greater reason to avoid the use of horoscopes is that this could lead to rendering worship “to the sun or the moon or all the army of the heavens, a thing [God has] not commanded.”—Deuteronomy 17:2-5.
No Water—No Life
This is the conclusion reached by Professor Norman H. Horowitz, a scientist affiliated with the 1965-76 Mariner and Viking missions to Mars.
In his book To Utopia and Back: The Search for Life in the Solar System, Professor Horowitz noted that the findings from these missions clearly resolved the question of whether there is life on Mars or on any other planet in our solar system. “Mars,” he says, “lacks that extraordinary feature that dominates the environment of our own planet, oceans of liquid water in full view of the sun.” Research confirmed the planet’s lack of water.
After careful experiments eliminated every possibility of a life potential on Mars, Horowitz conceded: “The failure to find life on Mars was a disappointment, but it was also a revelation. Since Mars offered by far the most promising habitat for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, it is now virtually certain that the earth is the only life-bearing planet in our region of the galaxy.”
How fitting that, when writing about the earth, the ancient prophet Isaiah stated that its Maker “formed it even to be inhabited”! (Isaiah 45:18) Water is mentioned early in the Bible’s creation account. Clearly, providing water before the creation of any earthly life form was a necessity. As the missions to Mars have testified: Outside the spirit realm, where there is no water, there cannot be life.—Genesis 1:1-10.
[Picture on page 7]
The lifeless surface of Mars, viewed from the “Viking II” spacecraft