As someone with almost literally a life-long love of astronomy (my first word was “star”), I’ve always been vaguely intrigued by astrology. I’m fascinated by that which endures through many ages and cultures of humanity. At the very least, such things reflect an aspect of human consciousness. They’re also a shared idea, so they form community in the like-minded.
Is there magic in the stars? No, not in the astrological sense. Any “magic” is in us, in our consciousness, not in the stars. (Worldwide, on average, almost 12 million babies are born each month. That an astrological sign applies to them all is a bit of a stretch.)
And the thing is, most of us aren’t the sign we think we are!
10 Comments | tags: astronomy, planet, solar system, sun sign, zodiac | posted in Life, Science
If you keep an eye on the night sky you may have noticed two bright “stars” to the south just around midnight. (To be precise: Jupiter is dead south at 11:02 pm; Saturn is dead south at 11:37 pm. By midnight they’ve moved slightly to the west.)
If you’re the type to keep an eye on the night sky, you likely already know those “stars” are Saturn (on the left) and Jupiter (on the right). What you may not know — and certainly can’t see — is that almost right smack dab between them is the former planet Pluto. All three just happen to be lined up nicely right now.
The New Horizons spacecraft is also out there, well beyond Pluto.
4 Comments | tags: astronomy, Jupiter, NASA, New Horizons, planet, Pluto, Pluto is amazing!, Saturn, solar system, space, space exploration | posted in Science
The two Solstices are the only universal holidays I celebrate. There many personal holidays, almost all anniversaries of whatever happened that day: births, weddings, deaths; the arcs of jobs and love affairs; graduations and engagements; all the milestones of life. (The trick is to avoid Marley’s chains and chests.)
When it comes to the world, I see only two true holidays whose meaning every mind on Earth shares; two that everyone can anticipate and appreciate. These holidays are defined by the star that gives us life. They mark our orbit as precisely as the numbers of a clock mark the hours.
In fact there are four such star-marked days; two major, two minor.
12 Comments | tags: astronomy, four, moon, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Sagittarius A*, scorpion tail, Scorpius, solar system, Solstice, stars, Summer Solstice, Sun, three, twelve, zodiac | posted in Life
“Space is big. Really big.”
When I started blogging here, one of the first bloggers I followed was Robin, of Witless Dating After Fifty. Over the years, she’s several times mentioned a great question her dad often posed when discussing religion with someone: “How big is your god?”
Last week my buddy and I were having our weekly beer- and gab-fest and our (typically very meandering) conversation came to touch on the problems with young Earth creationism — the Christian fundamentalist idea that the universe is only thousands of years old.
In fact, there’s a pair of real whopper problems involved!
46 Comments | tags: atheism, creationism, deism, galaxy, God, science and spirituality, solar system, spirituality, stars, Sun, theism, universe, young Earth creationism | posted in Religion, Sunday Sermons
I’ve written here before about chaos theory and how it prevents us from calculating certain physical models effectively. It’s not that these models don’t accurately reflect the physics involved; it’s that any attempt to use actual numbers introduces tiny errors into the process. These cause the result to drift more and more as the calculation extends into the future.
This is why tomorrow’s weather prediction is fairly accurate but a prediction for a year from now is entirely guesswork. (We could make a rough guess based on past seasons.) Yet the Earth itself is a computer — an analog computer — that tells us exactly what the weather is a year from now.
The thing is: it runs in real-time and takes a year to give us an answer!
2 Comments | tags: analog, analog computer, chaos theory, digital, Information Technology, mathematics, orbital mechanics, Pluto, Pluto is a planet, solar system, three-body problem, weather, weather prediction | posted in Math
The New Horizons spacecraft on its lonely way to the planet Pluto.
As far as I’m concerned, Pluto is — and will always be — a planet. I don’t at all dispute the 2006 decision of the IAU (International Astronomical Union) to classify planets in a way that excludes Pluto (and a lot of other rocks out there). Clearly without that classification, we’d end up with hundreds of new planets. I’m just saying that Pluto gets honorary planet status; it gets “grandfathered in” as one of the original nine.
Why am I writing about this now? Well, it came up in a (real world) discussion recently, so it’s on my mind. The reason it came up was due to a discussion about the New Horizons space mission, which will visit Pluto (the planet) in July of next year — a mere 190 days away. We’ve been waiting since January of 2006 — over eight years!
And I’m not alone in insisting on Pluto’s planetary status; far from it!
Leave a comment | tags: Clyde Tombaugh, Disney dog, dwarf planet, IAU, Illinois, Lowell Observatory, New Horizons, New Mexico, planet, Pluto, Pluto is a planet, solar system, Venetia Burney | posted in Opinion, Science
It’s party time! Friday night, and everything’s right.
For your consideration, there’s celebration in the air (that’s no exaggeration). We’re talking ’bout elation; lookin’ for participation. Ya gotta feel the situation. Join with the recreation; enjoy the circulation (and the conversation).
Listen to that good vibration, trackin’ jubilation destination. Forget your reputation; forget your moderation; ain’t no humiliation (that’s a stipulation). There’s no registration, no identification authentication.
I’m sure it’s no revelation; fermentation fascination will bring inebriation (and hallucination). Hesitation just won’t do; you have an invitation! There is no limitation at this here presentation.
That was my narration; how ’bout a small ovation?
26 Comments | tags: beer, celebrate, Champagne, galaxy, Kessel Run, light year, Milky Way, parsec, Pluto, Sol, solar system, sun sign | posted in Brain Bubble, Life