Re: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
by Glen W. Deen
May 15, 2002

THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE by Ray Ward and Gary D. Goodwin is a very interesting piece of work, and I applaud them for their effort. I learned many things that I didn't know, but I also found a few statements that do not agree with the facts, as I understand them. This article is my constructive criticism of that work. We are all seekers of Truth, so if any mistakes have been made, they should be corrected. For brevity, I will refer to the authors jointly as TMG (The Millennium Group).

Phobos and Deimos

TMG wrote:

There remains to this day no adequate proof that Phobos and Diemos (the moons of Mars) are still in orbit around Mars, following the passage of 76P.

Although I continue to question whether Phobos orbits Mars today, I believe that TMG is mistaken about there being no adequate proof that they were both still in orbit following the passage of 76P around June 5, 2000. I am one of the guilty parties who originated the rumor that Phobos and Deimos were both missing in my article Phobos and Deimos Have Vanished published on August 21, 2000 and later retracted by YOWUSA. I was wrong about Deimos because I photographed it on the evening of August 19, 2000. Deimos is the small white spot on the edge of the glare of Mars (at 2:00) just to the left of the arrow in the photograph below.

Ironically, when I published that mistaken article, I had already looked at this photograph that contained the image of Deimos, but I did not see it at that time. (I saw "star 1", and I knew it couldn't be Deimos because it was in the wrong quadrant.) It was not until weeks later that I looked at the same photograph again, and I saw it. This photograph is explained in more detail in my article Glen Deen Captures Martian Satellite. I sincerely regret that mistake, and I apologize to all of my readers for having made it.

Phobos is much more difficult to photograph than Deimos, even though it is a little larger, because it is much closer to Mars. That means it is inside the glare of Mars as viewed from Earth. However, its very closeness means that it casts its shadow on the surface of Mars in a partial solar eclipse. I recently wrote an article on the Phobos Shadows that proves that Phobos was still orbiting Mars are recently as September 20, 2000. I used the wide-angle Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) images of mapping swaths that were taken on nearly every orbit by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft operated by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) of San Diego. These images have been published on the web, and my article gives their URLs. A sample trio of pictures is shown below.

This is a good example because both the sub-solar point and the shadow of Phobos are near the equator so the eclipse ray is vertical to the surface. That makes the shadow sharper and more easily seen than when the eclipse ray is not vertical. (At higher latitudes, near one of the poles, the shadow is larger and more diffuse.) The bright vertical streak in the images is the reflection of the Sun, and the center of that streak is the sub-solar point. That is the point at which a ray from the Sun to the center of Mars passes through the surface. The images above have been cropped and their scale has been reduced to conserve space, but they are otherwise copies of the MOC mapping swath raw images at the URLs given for them. The shadow of Phobos is the small dark oval that is positioned slightly above and to the right of the sub-solar point in orbit 5554. The elongation and the slant of the shadow occur because the camera is scanning downward in time, and the shadow is moving to the left in this upside-down field of view. The reference orbit number 5466 shows exactly the same surface features, and the shadow is absent. Therefore what we are calling a shadow is not a surface feature. The time given in orbit 5466 is halfway between the start and stop times. The time given in orbit 5554 is the eclipse time, i.e., the time that the shadow appeared in the camera's field of view, which is 48.9% of the span between the start and stop times.

A Phobos shadow is confirmed when the following four criteria are all satisfied: (1) it is present in both the red-filtered and blue-filtered images of the same mapping swath, (2) it is absent in another swath of the same place on Mars taken at a different time, and (3) it's position in the swath falls on (or very near) the curve plotted in the following chart.

This chart can be independently computed from the ray geometry of the shadow projection and the known tilt of the Martian equator with respect to its orbit plane as a function of time. So, the fact that a shadow position in a particular swath fits this curve means that it was observed where it was supposed to be at that time according to the ray geometry.

This does not rule out the possibility that the shadows could have been faked by MSSS, but I do not believe that they did that because they would not have introduced two mysterious unexplained extra shadows that I discovered. (See Mysterious Extra Shadows below.)

I found 86 Phobos shadows in this data set. It is interesting to examine the frequency of each of the possible intervals between eclipses of 4, 39, 43, and 82 MGS orbits. I found 3 intervals of 4 orbits, 28 intervals of 39 orbits, 31 intervals of 43 orbits, 20 intervals of 82 orbits, one gap of 55 orbits, one gap of 1324 orbits, and one gap of 289 orbits. I explain these last two gaps below, but the gap of 55 orbits (121 images) from June 5, 2000 through June 9, 2000 is not explained. (See the next section.)

Each symbol in the graph is an observation by the MOC of the shadow of Phobos in one of the wide-angle swaths. The ordinate axis in the graph is the vertical position of the shadow expressed as a percentage of the swath from start (South) to stop (North).

The 1324-orbit gap in the shadow image sequences between November 7, 1999 and February 23, 2000 is the result of the shadow of Phobos being north of the North Pole. The 289-orbit gap between June 21, 2000 and July 15, 2000 occurred when Mars was near the Sun as viewed from Earth, and Mars was exactly behind the Sun (in longitude but slightly above it in latitude) at the midway point in that gap. Evidently, radio noise from the Sun interferes with the radio signal from the spacecraft, and the angle subtended at Earth across this gap corresponds to the beam width of the receiving antenna.

The bottom line is that the MOC wide-angle mapping swaths show that Phobos produced (at least) 86 solar eclipses that could be seen by the MGS spacecraft, the last one of which was on September 20, 2000. After that, the Phobos shadow projected into empty space south of the South Pole until some time in March 2001. But the data set stops on January 31, 2001, so we do not see it return.

Did Malin Space Science Systems Censor Data?

The MOC is designed to photograph a mapping swath during the day lit portion of every orbit. Many orbits are missing from the data set. Other swaths are present in part, and the missing portion of the swath is blacked out. I call those blacked-out portions "censored" for lack of a better term. I'm sure that there are technical reasons why the "censored" data was blacked out, and my guess as to what may have caused these technical reasons are given later in this section.

I find it curious that there are 56 consecutive mapping swaths missing or censored from June 5 to June 9, 2000. (These swaths would be in the missing sequence of 121 consecutive images of any kind.) The last good wide-angle mapping swath before this image gap was for orbit number 5561 (Image number m1600297) on June 5, 2000 from 08:59:49 to 09:57:46, and the next good wide-angle mapping swath after this gap was for orbit number 5617 (Image number m1600465) on June 9, 2000 from 22:48:14 to 23:46:11. Orbit 5593 (= 5554 + 39) should have had a shadow of Phobos, but it is missing from the data set. This may not be relevant, but I noticed that the top 40% of image m1600560 (orbit 5636) for June 11, 2000 is blacked out. This was not a problem for me because the shadow was at 46.6% from the top. Nevertheless, I could not see anything south of (above) 40%.

Not only wide-angle swaths are missing. The following Image numbers in this time frame are missing from the data set or censored (blacked out) or contain errors and are unreadable.

Missing or Censored
Image Sequence Numbers

Number of Missing
Images in Gap

Number of Images
Present Between Gaps

m1600303 m1600306



m1600308 m1600309



m1600312 m1600313



m1600316 m1600317



m1600326 m1600327



m1600330 m1600331



m1600335 m1600336



m1600344 m1600464


I'd like to give MSSS the benefit of the doubt, but this pattern does appear to be more methodical than random.

Allow me to speculate as to why some orbits are missing and others are censored. Suppose the mission control people wanted to point the spacecraft's cameras away from Mars from time to time to look at a comet. If they did so, the data would not belong in the mapping swath data set, so those orbits would be missing from the data set. Suppose that when they point the camera back towards Mars, the camera's point of view does not reach its designated look angle until somewhere in the middle of a wide-angle swath. It would make sense to censor that portion of the swath before the camera reached its designated direction while it was moving into position. If that is true, then the censorship doesn't mean there is anything on the surface of Mars that the mission control people want to hide from the public. Rather, they just want to keep the published data set pure with only surface images of Mars, and any off-Mars peeks at the celestial sphere don't belong.

The SOHO June 5, 2000 Evidence

The following picture is from It was taken by the SOHO spacecraft, and many observers suspect that Comet 76P can be seen north of Mars, as can be seen in the insets. (The bright object to the right of the Sun is Venus.)

The LASCO C-3 Camera time (2000 June 5 15:18 UT) needs to be converted from Universal Time (at SOHO) to Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB) at Mars by adding Delta T (64 seconds) and subtracting light travel time from Mars to SOHO, which is 1275 seconds. That puts the epoch of this photo of Mars at 2000 June 05 at 14:57:43 Mars time. Since Comet 76P is known to approach Mars from the south, this picture must be after Mars deflected the comet, assuming that such a deflection occurred.

This epoch is almost exactly 5 hours (actually 4:59:57) after the end of the orbit 5561 mapping swath (2000 June 5, 09:57:46), the last good orbit before the June 5-9 data gap. This is an important clue for the hypothesis that Mars deflected Comet 76P. Because we know the angular distance from the Sun to Mars, we know the scale of this photograph, and the distance of the light bubble that has been tentatively identified as Comet 76P is therefore about 4 arcminutes north of the center of Mars. The range from SOHO to Mars is about 382 million km, so the distance of 76P above Mars in the photograph is about 382,000,000 tangent(4/60) = 444,000 km or 131 Mars radii.

To compute the deflection epoch, one needs to know the vertical component of velocity of the comet in the Mars frame of reference. For illustration purposes only, let me guess that it is 37 km/s. That would make the time since deflection to be 444,000/37 = 12,000 seconds or 3.33 hours. In that case, the deflection epoch would be 2000 June 5 at 11:38 Mars time. If MSSS knew the trajectory of Comet 76P (from prior observations), it seems reasonable that they might wait until 1.67 hours before the deflection time to point the MGS camera away from Mars and towards the comet. This would allow them to capture the last Phobos shadow before the deflection. It also seems reasonable that 4 days of observation of the comet would be sufficient to know its orbit after it left the vicinity of Mars, and they could return the camera to its normal duty of mapping Mars. But I believe that they continued to time-share the camera between Mars and the comet for the remainder of the mission. (See MOC Narrow-Angle Camera Activity Evidence below.)

Critics of this interpretation of this SOHO photograph would rightly point out that the SOHO C-3 camera does not have either the resolution or the light sensitivity to image a comet as small and as faint as Comet 76P at the distance to Mars, because this comet eluded diligent earthbound comet hunters with much more powerful telescopes. My answer is that there must be a law of physics that requires all comets to brighten when they come near a planet. Earthbound observers would not have been able to see the brightened comet because of the Sun's glare.

We know that comets brighten when they come near the Sun. Here is a relevant question. Did Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 brighten as it approached Jupiter? This is a fact that could be determined with sufficient research.

MOC Narrow-Angle Camera Activity Evidence

The MOC wide-angle camera is supposed to image a mapping swath for every orbit, and in fact it missed very few of them. But what about the narrow-angle, high-resolution cameras? They are supposed to be making high-resolution images of the surface at the same time that the wide-angle camera is imaging its mapping swath.

The data set is organized into monthly groups called subphases and labeled m00 through m23. (m05 and m06 are missing from the list of label names, but the data are continuous in time from the end of m04 to the beginning of m07.) Each subphase is further divided into up to 82 sets of 100 sequential images each. For example, the M00 subphase is divided into 33 sets labeled m00000 through m00032, and the first set has links to images labeled m0000001 through m0000099. Go to for a list of links to MOC images arranged by subphase.

We see in subphase m08 (for October 1999) that the MGS spacecraft flew 379 orbits (orbit numbers 2522 through 2900), and that all cameras took 8133 images. Since the wide-angle camera takes two images (one through a red filter, and one through a blue filter) for each orbit, it took 2 x 379 = 758 images. That leaves 8133 758 = 7375 images for the narrow-angle cameras. For this month, the average number of narrow-angle images per orbit is 7375/379 = 19.5. Yet this is the only month in which the narrow-angle camera productivity is so high. The following chart is a plot of the average number of narrow-angle images per orbit for each month versus time.

The gap between June 21, 2000 and July 15, 2000 occurred when Mars was near the Sun as viewed from the Earth.

Except for the first month (April 1999) the number of narrow-angle images is 13 or more per orbit until December 1999. At that point, the ratio drops suddenly and remains low for the rest of the data set.

What can account for this? It is my opinion that the narrow-angle cameras were time-shared between Mars and Comet 76P, and exposures of such a faint object required much more camera time than the bright surface of Mars. The lowest ratio of 3.2 images per orbit occurs during subphase m16 (June 1 through June 21, 2000), which includes the supposed Comet 76P deflection epoch of June 5, 2000. Of course, any comet images that MSSS may have obtained were not published in this data set. The ratios are low after November 1999 because the narrow-angle cameras spent more time looking at the comet than at the surface of Mars.

There is another mystery that deserves an explanation. The wide-angle image m1749152 (for orbit 6030) for July 13, 2000 is out of sequence for subphase m17, which covers orbits 6031 through 6254 over the time span from July 14 through August 1 in images m170008 through m1701279. Why was this image not recorded using one of the missing labels m170000 through m170007, since it came before orbit 6031?

A similar mystery occurred for the wide-angle image m1849192 (for orbit 6401) for August 13, 2000. It is out of sequence for subphase m18, which covers orbits 6255 through 6633 over the time span from August 1, 2000 through August 31, 2000 in images m1800001 through m1801933.

Mysterious Extra Shadows

There are at least two other mysteries to be solved. The mapping swath for the September 13, 2000 orbit 6788 shows two shadows! You can see this in the pictures below. The Phobos shadow is identified by "P->", and the extra shadow is identified with "?".

The most reasonable explanation that I can think of is that Phobos had a visitor in the form of another space body. If so, this visitor was not near enough to affect the orbit of Phobos because Phobos experienced its last recorded solar eclipse 7 days later in orbit 6870 on September 20, right on schedule. The only alternative explanation for the extra shadow is that it is a transient surface feature such as a dust or a smoke plume. (But plumes ought not to be almond-shaped.)

The second mystery is that Orbit 6706 on September 6, 2000 (7 days earlier) also shows two shadows, and the extra shadow in this picture is very long, straight, and striated. This can be seen in the two inside pictures below. The outside pictures are "before" and "after" pictures of the same location on Mars.

The most reasonable explanation for this elongated shadow (if it is not a flat disk-shaped object that is tumbling in a retrograde solar orbit) is that it is a smoky bolide trail. The only alternative explanation for this extra shadow is, once again, a transient surface feature.

Conclusion Regarding Phobos

So, I would say as a result of my Phobos shadows study that if Phobos was ejected by Mars, it did not happen in June of 2000. But it might have happened on July 2, 2001 when the recent global Martian dust storm in the 90W hemisphere started. (It started in the other hemisphere on June 26.) There is a new theory that Martian dust storms are caused by asteroid impacts. This theory has been published at:

Such a hypothesis would need some cosmic trigger to cause it, and Comet 75P/Kohoutek might be a candidate.

This July 2, 2001 date is interesting because it just so happens that two recent observations of Phobos were made visually on June 29 by Jeff Medkeff and with a CCD camera on July 1, 2001 by Don Bruns. See The Phobos Mystery Continues(article no longer posted). It also seems fair to ask MSSS to explain the extra shadows in orbits 6706 and 6788 and the missing 55 consecutive mapping swaths from June 5, 2000 to June 9, 2000.

Faliure to Recover Comet 76P

TMG wrote:

This is probably a good place to note that comet 76P
has never been re-acquired after its encounter with Mars.

Actually, it is worse than that. Comet 76P has never been officially re-acquired since it was last observed on March 30, 1994. Do not be fooled by published orbital elements that quote a later epoch. Such orbits are computed osculating orbits. The epoch is that for which the elements best approximate the comet's "true" orbit. The elements define a 2-body orbit that is tangent to (osculates) the n-body orbit at the specified epoch. The elements of an n-body orbit vary as a function of time. Earlier observations are simply projected forward in time by numerical integration techniques. Until recently, the last observation information for Comet 76P was listed in

But I looked, and Comet 76P has been REMOVED from this list. The Minor Planet Center had updated that file about an hour before I looked. Why would they do that?

It is my opinion that Comet 76P has been observed unofficially by the Hubble Space Telescope and by the Mars Global Surveyor, and these observations have not been made public. The Hubble people told Brian Marsden that they had acquired 76P in April 2000, but they would not give him the observation data. The normal earthbound comet observers have not recovered it because, in my opinion, it experienced an orbit-changing slingshot event in the Jovian L-5 Trojan asteroid belt in late 1996 or early 1997, so the comet would not be following its legacy orbit. To recover a comet, you have to know where to look, and if its orbit changed, it won't be where you expect to find it. Also, comets have a habit of "disappearing" when their comas become quiescent.

June 2000 Dust Storm?

TMG wrote:

After June of 2000, we watched and waited for any signs that there had been a change in Mars or its moons. The first change that came along was the most incredible dust storm ever recorded on Mars. Because of the timing of the comet and the dust storm it would seem appropriate to assume that the dust storm could've either been caused by a hit of debris from the comet, or that it is simply a storm due to the increased electromagnetic charges in the area.

I knew about the July 2001 dust storm, but I was not aware of any June 2000 dust storm. I looked at lots of MGS wide-angle mapping swaths from June 2000 through January 2001, and I certainly saw no evidence of any global dust storm in that interval. If TMG has evidence for a June 2000 dust storm on Mars, they need to present it.

The Four Horses in Revelation Chapter 6

While I still have your attention, I would like to comment on their title because I have original insights to contribute. I see the Book of Revelation as containing puzzles to be solved, and the four horses are puzzling. My intuition tells me that the four horses of the apocalypse in Chapter 6 of Revelation are all constellations that will contain signs in the sky. We may not know what these signs will be in prospect, but after they occur, we will recognize them in retrospect, and we will know beyond all doubt that the visions of John the Revelator were indeed given by God. Although I make assertions below as if they were facts, the following interpretations are only my opinions, so preface them with "I believe that ".

2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

The White Horse is Sagittarius, the (mounted) archer. The color white refers to the color of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is in Sagittarius. Visually, the constellation looks like a steaming teapot, and white is the color of the Sagittarius Star Cloud, which looks like the steam. "He that sat on him" with a bow is the archer. The crown is a reference to Coronae Australis, the Southern Crown, which is the constellation immediately south of Sagittarius. Whatever comes out of Sagittarius may be so powerful that it can conquer planets.

4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given unto him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

Thanks to the Mobil Oil Company (now Exxon-Mobil), we know that the Flying Red Horse is Pegasus, of Greek mythology, because it is Mobil's logotype. In the sky, the constellation Pegasus is immediately north of Pisces and Aquarius. Mars, the Roman god of war, is "him that sat thereon" to whom was given the power to take peace from the earth (wage war). In one of the possible scenarios I have studied, Earth's orbit will change such that Mars will appear to be stationary in Pegasus for several months. This identification of the red horse as Pegasus begs the question as to why the Bible says it is red. But maybe "it" is Mars, and of course Mars is red. But I do not rule out the possibility that the four stars in the Great Square of Pegasus will turn red as the result of some physical change about which our science is not yet aware.

5 ... And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

The Black Horse [Rev. 6:5] is Centaurus (half-man, half-horse) because "he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand". This is a reference to Libra, the Scales, which is the constellation immediately north of the right hand of the Centaur. A portion of the dark (black) Coal Sack Nebula lies in southern Centaurus. (Most of the Coal Sack is in Crux, and part of it is in Musca, but Crux and Musca are not ancient constellations. In the first Century, when Revelation was written, the entire Coal Sack was in Centaurus.)

8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth,

The Pale Horse [Rev 6:8] is Monoceros, the mythical Unicorn. It is the very faint (hence pale) constellation that is immediately east of Orion. The reference to the "sword" in this verse may be describing the unicorn's horn. He looks as if he is about to gore Orion in his behind with that horn. Monoceros is followed by Hydra, the sea serpent ("and Hell followed with him"). The business of having the power to kill with hunger and with death over the fourth part of the earth may refer to the area of the earth, not its population. Crops won't grow without sunlight, so if the northern .25 of the Earth's area were covered with smoke for several months, it would experience a famine. If so, then the Scripture does not mean that .25 of the Earth's population will die of hunger, but that death from hunger will occur in .25 of the Earth's area.

Glen Deen