“The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.”
-Revelation 8:12, NIV
As I’m sure you guessed by the subject line, I’m reading the “Left Behind” series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. In studying Revelations, I tried to translate what I could into natural events (natural defined as conforming to the laws of physics). Just a mind game, of sorts. While engaged in this, a hypothetical question occurred to me about one possible case, and I became fascinated with not only the answer, but in how it might be obtained. Getting there’s half the fun, I guess. My question:
If we assume that the above verse in Revelation refers to a literal event, and if we assume that this reduction by 1/3 of incoming celestial illumination is caused by an increase in dust in the atmosphere, how many average volcanic eruptions would it take to throw that much dust into the atmosphere? This question assumes that there is such a thing as an average volcanic eruption.
As a secondary question, what size meteoric impact would it take to toss that much dust into the atmosphere?
I realize, of course, that this could all be symbolism, or that the decrease in light reaching earth could be done supernaturally, or even by a significant number of small asteroids entering our atmosphere and burning up before impact. However, I thought the answer itself might be interesting, and as I’ve already e-mailed this to Cecil, I figured I’d post it here, too.