And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;  And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
In the three preceding verses of our text, John has viewed the land and sea events fully described in previously issued Birth Pang Numbers 5, 6, and 7. Now his view is shifted upward where he observes a great star falling from heaven. The word used for star is “aster.” It can mean any one of three different things. It can be a fixed star in the heavens such as the North Star, Polaris – or a “shooting” star, better know as a meteor – or a comet. Sometimes meteors and comets are both referred to as “asteroids” by news commentators, just as they often refer erroneously to tsunami as a “tidal wave.” Since the fixed stars in our universe (except for the sun) are thousands to millions of light years from our planet and, as such, eliminate themselves from consideration as candidates for being Wormwood, this leaves us with only two candidates – a meteor or a comet. In order to select between these two it is necessary to carefully examine John’s description of the characteristics of Wormwood.
Using John’s description, the following statements concerning Wormwood cannot be easily refuted: (1) It burned like a lamp, and the Hebrew lamp had a fuel supply that kept it burning. (2) It fell upon the third part of the earth’s water surface, and yet John did not so much as mention a quiver in the earth’s crust as it struck. He mentions earthquakes time after time throughout the Book of Revelation, but does not mention one occurring as Wormwood strikes the earth. (3) Whatever Wormwood is, it dissolves in water, because the water becomes Wormwood. (4) When it dissolves in man’s water supply it gives the water a bitter taste, and it causes many who drink the water to die.
When a “shooting star” is outside the earth’s atmosphere it is called a meteoroid. When it enters the earth’s atmosphere it is called a meteor. And, if it is large enough to eventually strike the earth’s surface, before burning into ashes, the solid portion that remains is identified as a meteorite. For simplicity I will refer to all three phases as “shooting stars” to avoid confusion.
Shooting stars are made of nickel, iron, and/or stone. Now, let us reason together as to why Wormwood cannot be a shooting star by comparing it with John’s Revelation description.
A shooting star does not burn like a Hebrew lamp. It does not have a continuous fuel supply. Being a solid it burns out very quickly in a matter of seconds to minutes.
If a shooting star large enough to strike one-third of the earth was to make such a contact, the impact of such a solid object would jar the earth to its very foundations, but John reports no such shaking in his vision.
Nickel, iron, and stone do not dissolve in water, but the water is said to become Wormwood.
Nickel, iron, and stone do not give water a bitter taste, nor or they poisonous. During the course of man’s recorded history, thousands of shooting stars have fallen into local water sources, and yet there has never been a validated report of poisoning recorded.
One might argue at this point that God could make a shooting star with a continuous fuel supply, which melted instead of burned, dissolved in water, made water taste bitter, and was poisonous to mankind. He doesn’t have to make one, because he made many heavenly bodies long ago that do all of these things – we call them comets. The “aster” of Revelation 8:10 is one of God’s trillions of comets. Why am I so confident that Wormwood is a comet? My reasons are as follows:
A comet has a continuous fuel supply. As it approaches the sun its fuel supply begins to be released by sublimation, and it then moves through the heavens like a great, ever burning lamp.
If a comet entered the earth’s atmosphere it would not burn to ashes, for a comet is composed largely of ice. It would not burn, but would melt by sublimation, and eventually fall as liquid, and a super thick cloud, upon one-third of man’s water supply. As the ice melted from a solid into a super thick glob of vapor and liquid, the trillions of pieces of nickel, iron, and stone, embedded in the ice, would be released. The super thick cloud of liquid and vapor would decelerate in his descent toward the earth, but the released solids, being heavier, would be subject to greater gravitation pull, and would proceed to the earth in advance of the cloud, burning in the atmosphere as shooting stars. To an observer on the earth it would appear that all the stars of heaven were falling to earth in advance of the cloud that would eventually settle on one-third of man’s water supply. “But in those days after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,  And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.” (Mark 13:24,25)
As the comet passed through the earth’s atmosphere during its melting process, it would release methyl cyanide, hydrogen cyanide, and a wide range of cyanogenic poisons, all of which are 100 percent water soluble and have a bitter taste.
Methyl cyanide, hydrogen cyanide, and cyanogenic gases are extremely toxic, and many would die of the poisoning effects.
Comets originate from a region between our solar system and the nearest stars. There are trillions of comets in this great comet cloud. There appears to be a virtually endless supply of them, for each year new comets are discovered and others go out of existence, victims of the shattering effects of the sun. When earth passes through the old path of a comet, the small solid particles, which melted off the outer veneer of its icy surface, are intercepted, and meteor showers are produced in our atmosphere. These showers occasionally exhibit as many as a thousand shooting stars per minute falling through the earth’s atmosphere.
A comet is one of God’s strangest creations. There is nothing quite like it. A comet nucleus is made of solid ice, but it is actually ice made of gases that solidified in the unbelievable coldness of outer space. As the ice ball nucleus approaches the sun, its outer surface begins to pass directly from solid ice to a gas by sublimation, and we earthlings begin to observe its long, gaseous, lamp like tail. A Hebrew lamp, because they did not refine the olive oil, put out a gray trail of smoke when it burned. Figure 18 illustrates how the comet’s tail always points away from the sun because of the sun’s solar winds.
The black specks on the surface of the comet in figure 17 are small pieces of nickel, iron, and stone that become embedded in the outer layer of ice by contact as the comet makes its long elliptical orbit around the sun and our solar system. These pieces of nickel, iron, and stone are released into its tail along the comet’s path when the sun’s rays begin to melt the comet, as illustrated in figure 18. Sometimes the gaseous tail of a comet has been observed to extend out to 150 million miles from its nucleus, and over this great distance a trail of small, solid pieces of space debris is laid down in space. Every year, particularly during the late fall and early winter, the earth passes through several comet tails of the past, and dramatic shooting star displays are visible in our atmosphere.
The solid chunk of ice nucleus varies in size, some being less than 20 miles across, while other icy centers are several thousand miles in diameter. When the nucleus comes within the warming rays of the sun it begins to melt, and this produces the coma and tail shown in figure 19. The icy nucleus is composed of hydrogen, helium, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen gases in a solid icy state. As the ultraviolet rays of the sun strike this combination of elemental gases, several compounds are produced. Among these gases are methyl cyanide, hydrogen cyanide, and a whole range of cyanogenic poisons. When Russian, Italian, and Japanese satellites went in, around, and over the coma and nucleus of Halley’s Comet in 1986, scientists were shocked by the very heavy concentrations of cyanogenic gases that were discovered. The same heavy concentrations have also been observed in all probes of comets since 1986.
I do not know which of the trillions of comets God will select to be Wormwood, but I am certain that Wormwood is a comet. When Wormwood enters the earth’s atmosphere it will not burn, it will melt. And, as it goes directly from a solid to a gas, it will release into the earth’s atmospheric the aforementioned deadly gases of figure 19. Figure 20 pictures another creation of God described in Ecclesiastes 1:7 – “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”