A Biblical-Science analysis of "Planet X"

The Internet teems with people who thrive on sensationalistic events and seem to enjoy drawing others into their webs of deceit with end times scares such as the "Planet X" myth, which suggests there are physical connections between "Planet X", the sky darkening at the Messiah's crucifixion, and "Wormwood" from the Bible...

The first thing we must understand in any connection of "Planet X" to "Wormwood" or to prophesy in the Bible, is the origin of the term "Planet X."

Let's separate fact from fiction/half-truth:

1. There are seven heavenly bodies (including the Sun) which are directly observable with the unaided eye (sometimes referred to as observable with the "naked eye"). These are: the Sun, Mercury, Venus, the Earth's Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. There are more, but for these to be seen requires special circumstances. In this category are: the planet Uranus, some comets, some asteroids, and the Galilean moons of Jupiter - Io, Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede. Yes, there have been reports through the ages where people with especially acute vision, have been able to discern the four Galilean moons of Jupiter without any additional optical aid. So the seven commonly visible bodies are the only accepted "seven". All others are excluded.

2. The planet Uranus - though occasionally in good condition, is visible to the unaided eye - defied observation by ancient people until it was discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1781 using a telescope he built. It really takes special conditions for Uranus to be visible to the naked eye, and even then, it would be incredibly hard to determine it was a planet just like all the other "wandering stars".

3. As man grew in his ability to apply mathematics to the motions of the known planets, it quickly became apparent that the outermost known planet, Uranus, was not exactly following the predicted path in its orbit around the Sun. There is nothing mysterious about this. Planetary orbits are exactly predictable, unless there are some other influences on the orbit, producing infinitesimal changes in the orbit of the planet, such as the gravitational attraction of an unseen body. The observed, tiny oddities in the orbit of Uranus led to the postulation that yet another planet was beyond the orbit of Uranus.

4. Thus an intensive study of the skies was begun, and in 1843, John C. Adams, a British astronomer and mathematician, calculated the perturbations on Uranus and predicted the existence of another planet, beyond the orbit of Uranus. Neptune was subsequently discovered in 1846, by an astronomy student using a telescope at the Berlin Observatory, relying on mathematical predictions by Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier.

5. Following the discovery of Neptune in 1846, there was considerable speculation in the astronomical community that there was yet another planet beyond the orbit of Neptune. As mathematical computations got better and better, it seemed that the orbital perturbations of Uranus and Neptune were not yet explained, so astronomer Percival Lowell in 1915 proposed the existence of a "Planet X", which, if it existed, would account for the perturbations of the orbits of the outer planets. Lowell, based his analysis on another astronomer, William Pickering, who, in 1909 authored a paper on the search for an trans-Neptunian planet. One should note that from 1908 to 1932, Pickering proposed seven hypothetical planets -- Planet O, P, Q, R, S, T and U. Lowell searched in vain from 1909 to 1913 for his "Planet X", and again from 1927 to 1928.

6. Clyde Tombaugh discovered an object which he named "Pluto" in 1929. This was thought to be the long-sought "Planet X". Pluto, however has subsequently been determined to be too small to account for the gravitational perturbations on the outer planets. To the chagrin of the world, Pluto was "demoted" to a "planetoid" in 1998 by the International Astronomical Union. It turns out that Pluto is actually smaller than the trans-Neptunian object discovered in 2003 known as "Eris", and was thought in the astronomical community, among other reasons, to not qualify as a "planet."

7. "Planet V" is a hypothetical planet hypothesized by NASA scientists John Chambers and Jack Lissauer to have once existed between Mars and the asteroid belt, based on computer models.

8. "Planet W". No readily available record indicates that anyone has predicted or has looked for a "Planet W". The point here is that Lowell's "Planet X" simply meant "the unknown planet," not some actual planet which was to become "Wormwood."

9. Man-made satellites (Pioneer 11 & 12, as well as Voyager 1 & 2) which have reached the outer edges of the solar system have been used to detect previously unobserved gravitational forces as they flew in their orbits to the outer reaches of the solar system, and have found nothing - no indication that there is a planet of the mass required to disturb the outer planet's orbits.

10. The year 2012 is long gone and the much hyped "Planet X" - "Nibiru" failed to show and would have been discovered by now. The following is from "Arguments for the presence of a distant large undiscovered Solar system planet" published by J.B. Murray in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1999: "The mass of the hypothetical object would presumably be large compared with those of the known planets, in order to produce a detectable family of comets. However, the mass cannot be too large or it would be subject to energy-releasing nuclear reactions (Saumon et al. 1995) that would make the object too bright to have remained undiscovered." (The term "too bright" includes in the infrared spectrum where any "failed star" would be found.)

In other words, even as long ago as 1999, any planet at least as large as the known planets would have been detected by known techniques at the time, and if larger, would present itself in the infrared spectrum as a failed star.

11. In 2016, astronomers reported the potential existence of yet another "Planet X". (This time they are calling it "Planet 9" since Pluto was demoted in 2008.) This possible planet has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). It would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. While the "Planet X" crowd is going gaga over this new "planet" as if it somehow vindicates their belief that "Planet X" has influenced life on earth and influenced scripture, reality is somewhat different.

This new "Planet 9" (or "X" if you wish), due to its massively giant orbit, would never approach our solar system any closer than about 5 times the distance to Neptune, would never be visible to the naked eye, and would have never been close enough to the earth to have had any influence whatsoever - not to humans in general or Biblical events in particular!

It should be clear from the above facts that "Planet X" had its origin in the search for a planet or planets which could explain the observed, but infinitesimal, perturbations in the orbits of the outer planets.

It should also be clear that any body lying outside the orbit of the furthest known (major) planet, Neptune, it would likely have been discovered by now (2016).

It should also be noted that the term "Wormwood" is not associated with any known or hypothesized planet. Planets are named AFTER their discovery, not before, and usually the discoverer is afforded the opportunity to name his or her discovery. Thus, since no "Planet X" has been discovered nor named, there is no, and has not yet been discovered, anything which has been named "Wormwood." Click on this link to see the internationally accepted rules for naming conventions of astronomical objects.

Now let's turn to fiction and half-truths being circulated on the Internet:

12. "Planet X 2012" is "Wormwood". Complete fiction! There are no physical connections between "Planet X", the year "2012", or "Wormwood" from the Bible. Every time these terms are presented together, they are simply assumed to be fact. It has been shown above that "Planet X" was, and always has been, only the moniker for the undiscovered yet predicted planet which could explain the perturbations of the orbits of the outer, known planets. It has also been shown that the "X" very simply follows in the alphabetical progression in the astronomical community of the search for any undiscovered planet, starting with "Planet O"! Perhaps, the "X" moniker simply addressed the "unknown planet - planet X."

No recognized astronomical organization has named any undiscovered "Planet X" as "Wormwood". "Wormwood" is, indeed, the name given to the object which plays a role in the destruction of the existing Earth in Revelation, chapter 8. "2012" however, was simply the year in which the Mayan calendar "ended", thus leading to all sorts of mystical and occult reasons to connect Planet X, and "Wormwood" with the year 2012. Additionally, no astronomically discovered object is named with the year of some future event - rather, the year of discovery is often used in the name of the discovered object. Therefore, no "Planet X 2012" exists in the astronomical community. "Planet X" is the identifier of an as yet undiscovered planet, "2012" is the year the Mayan calendar ends, and "Wormwood" is the name of the destroying object in Revelation, however, NOTHING, ties the three terms together.

13. "The veracity of Planet X has been verified by NASA and other independent astronomers". No such statement can be verified. In fact, quite the opposite is true: While many INTERNET articles attribute the discovery of a "Planet X" to NASA, ANY object discovered is often referred to in the popular press as "Planet X". Astronomer, Phil Platt, runs a very nice Web site called "Bad Astronomy", where he debunks the idea of Planet X. The careful reader will notice that in the physical evidence, our Sun does not exhibit any indication that any giant, unseen mass is present in our solar system which could be "Planet X" (or "Wormwood" for that matter.)

14. "Scientifically this planet is called Planet X, but is also known as planet 'WORMWOOD' ". This statement is completely unverifiable. As described above, no planet, or other astronomical body is named before it is discovered, so no "Wormwood" exists in the scientific community, and hence, no planet is known as "Wormwood", and "Planet X" is certainly not known as "Wormwood" in any scientific community.

And finally, the pseudo-intellects attempt to use Revelation 8:10-12 as proof about Planet X and "Wormwood":

The cited reference to Revelation 8:10-12 is correctly translated from the original Aramaic to English as:

10 And the third messenger sounded, and there fell from heaven a star burning like a lamp; and it fell upon a third part of the rivers and upon the fountains of water. 11 And the name of the star was called Wormwood; and a third part of the waters became wormwood; and many persons died from the waters because they were bitter. 12 And the fourth Messenger sounded, and a third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so that the third part of them were dark, and they became dark; and the day did not give light for the third part of it, and the night in like manner.

Now, all who read this are guaranteed to visualize their own conclusion, but let's look at this from a scientific point of view. The description in Revelation is that of an object striking the earth which is small enough to affect an estimated one-third of the "observables" - land, ocean, and air. This is because the writer, John, on Patmos Island, is provided a vision in which not all the earth is destroyed! Such an object, would be large enough to cause a cataclysm, yet clearly not as large as the object thought to be the size of "Planet X", from Percival Lowell onward. In fact, any "Planet X", as yet undiscovered, would be MANY times the mass of the earth, and any impact with the earth, or even close approach, would likely result in the near complete destruction of the earth, leaving no survivors, yet the scriptures of Revelation go on to describe the terrors the survivors of the Wormwood event face!

The description in Revelation uses the term "star", yet one must realize that in Biblical times, all objects in the sky were referred to as "stars", even "shooting stars" (as they are called today), which are pin-head sized rocks entering our atmosphere which burn up leaving hundreds if not thousands of miles of temporary, visible debris. Indeed, the very term "planet" means "wanderer" or "wandering star." Where John describes a "star", any sized object could be implied, as John was not being revealed the exact magnitude of the object causing the (apparent) destruction of 1/3 of the oceans and of the visible sky. Revelation 8:8, in fact says "And a second messenger sounded and, as it were a great mountain burning with fire, was cast into the sea; and also a third part of the sea became blood." This most certainly sounds like an object the size of a comet ("mountain"), rather than an object the size of any "star" or "Planet X" (many times the size of the earth). Also, the fact that John describes the object as being cast into the sea, implies a direct or near direct hit of the object, and any such direct hit of a planet-sized object would result in complete annihilation, rather than only 1/3 destruction, with survivors.

All instances of the search for a "Planet X" are for an object many times the mass of Earth! Physics, indeed, requires such a mass, if it exists, to be many times that of the earth, and physics also requires that if such an object exists, its orbit, with respect to the mass it is orbiting - the Sun - to be so large and at such a great distance there would NEVER be a direct interaction with Earth! The terms "Planet X" and "mountain" as used in Revelation 8:8 are incongruous.

Indeed, "Wormwood" is completely within the realm of scientific plausibility, but not as "Planet X", rather, as a completely indiscoverable object, large enough to do the damage to Earth as described in Revelation, yet small enough to remain completely undetected by both ancient and modern instrumentation! Many such objects are most certain to exist, completely indiscoverable by science, yet could account for the events in Revelation. The idea of "Planet X" as "Wormwood" ranks with all other fanciful, disreputable ideas of sensationalism, conspiracies, and "doomsday theories" in the mainstream media - and by aficionados who refuse to believe the mainstream media.

Lastly, references to "Planet X" often refer to the publications and videos of Marshall Masters, as a "former CNN feature field producer". The careful reader will note that this reference, Mr. Masters, holds no authority or credibility! As a "producer", Mr. Masters makes movies! He is neither a scientist, nor, apparently, a credentialed graduate of a university of higher education with any technical or scientific degree. His biography posted on the INTERNET provides no evidence of any college degree whatsoever. (We are not claiming here that a higher degree is evidence of intellect or education, rather that the absence of any citation of any degrees detracts from Mr. Master's qualifications to defend any claims of any scientific observation.) The reader should beware of such claims.

Another dubious claim is made by Gill Broussard who advertises his own "spin" on Planet X by calling it "Planet 7X" claiming "the Government is cloaking it with lasers". (We at The Refiner's Fire do not suggest you actually watch this drivel - you will find it a complete waste of time.) Again, the reader should beware of the nonsense of such claims.

Thus, the issue of "Planet X" representing the "Wormwood" of Revelation 8 is found to be ridiculous. The reader should be wary of any amplification of the descriptions of the events in Revelation as they apply to modern-day events. Matthew 24:36 says "About the day and about the hour no man knows, not even the Messengers of Heaven, but the Father alone."

(This article was first posted in 2009, updated in 2017.)