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  1. #1's Avatar Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs]

    Apparently there were some unusual lights in the sky Wednesday in the
    San Francisco Bay Area. I didn't see them but this article about them
    appeared in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle:


    The chairman of the astronomy department at Foothill College claims
    lights were probably Mars and Venus."

    The event occurred nearly at midnight, Wednesday, October 26, 2005.

    My response to the Science Editor of the SF Chronicle included:

    " At Midnight Wednesday, Mars was at 57 degrees elevation to the ESE
    " (actually 122 degrees azimuth) and Venus had set 3.5 hours earlier
    " to the West and was 38 degrees below the horizon (i.e., not visible).
    " Below is a solar system data table view produced by software I've
    " using for 15 years now (and so accurate I use it to find the
    " of Mars' moons for observing, among other things) and I've been an
    " amateur astronomer for over 50 years.
    " A statement like "the lights were probably Mars and Venus" is one of
    " the reasons I've never joined the Peninsula Astronomical Society
    " I've lived here (Los Altos, which hosts Foothill College) 40 years.
    " For what it's worth, I didn't see the lights Wednesday due to the
    " overcast conditions in the South Peninsula.
    " Thad
    " Az Alt Air Size VMag RisTm TrnTm TrnAlt SetTm
    " Sun 331:08:40 -62:52:09 13.33 1931 -27 7:29 12:52 40:00 18:15
    " Moon 48:55:06 -21:58:43 13.33 1766 -11 1:10 8:26 70:59 15:31
    " Mercury 287:46:20 -56:19:29 13.33 5.9 -0.1 9:25 14:18 31:07 19:11
    " Venus 263:16:31 -37:58:15 13.33 23.4 -4.2 11:30 16:04 26:12 20:38
    " Mars 122:40:43 57:36:15 1.18 20.1 -2.2 18:58 1:57 69:05 8:50
    " Jupiter 339:07:11 -61:48:49 13.33 30.6 -1.5 7:11 12:41 42:08 18:10
    " Saturn 60:40:09 -7:16:58 13.33 18.1 0.3 0:42 7:41 70:41 14:40
    " Uranus 226:37:58 30:08:03 1.99 3.4 5.8 15:50 21:22 43:00 2:58
    " Neptune 239:00:47 11:12:21 5.03 2.1 7.9 14:45 19:55 36:09 1:09
    " Pluto 272:57:51 -30:08:29 13.33 0.3 14.0 11:03 16:16 37:05 21:29
    " Center Equ: Topo 2000.0 10/26/2005 23:59:59 PDT:
    " Lat: 37:20:17
    " Long: 122:04:17
    " Elev: 78.1m
    " Temp: 10C
    " Pres: 1010.04mB
    " Site: ThadLABS, Los Altos CA

  2. #2
    Alan Baxter's Avatar
    Alan Baxter Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs]

    On 28 Oct 2005 11:54:31 -0700, wrote:

    I read the article. The reporting is so bad that I wouldn't trust any
    of its quotes to be accurate.
    usenet at baxtersys dot com
    I've never received a spam sent to this address.
    Even very simple obfuscation is effective!

  3. #3
    Greg Crinklaw's Avatar
    Greg Crinklaw Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs] wrote:

    Yeah, he probably got a call while in the middle of something and
    couldn't have cared less about the details. So what? Like someone else
    said, this was bad reporting, pure and simple. Imagine you already have
    dealt with this particular reporter. How hard are you going to try to
    answer the questions...?

    Regarding your letter, I fail to see the relevance of most of it, such
    as how long you've been an astronomer, why you haven't joined the
    society and how long you've been using your software.

    Hey, you asked.

    Greg Crinklaw
    Astronomical Software Developer
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico, USA (33N, 106W, 2700m)


    To reply have a physician remove your spleen

  4. #4
    oriel36's Avatar
    oriel36 Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs] wrote:

    With unprecedented accuracy you can present the positions of planets
    using the calendar system which in turn in based on the celestial
    sphere allied with the consequences of combining axial and orbital
    motions into a single sidereal motion.This method has a very distinct
    beginning with John Flamsteed and owes nothing to Copernicus and Kepler
    who neither needed accurate clocks nor relative positions of the
    planets to the axis/equator.

    It must be some achievement to do all yet what person would trade the
    correct intepretation of Kepler's Panus Quadragesimalis for a million
    accurate observations using clocks and the calendar system.Kepler would
    have told you that is a no-brainer,the real astronomical substance uses
    no clocks and accurate human perceptions that transform apparent
    motions into accurate and real motions,by real I mean the ability to go
    outside and try to put our own motion on Earth into proper context.

    On page 86 is a wonderful work of genius representing a partially
    geocentric view of the motions of Mars plotted against the celestial
    sphere and a partially geiocentric view of those same motions plotted
    against the annual orbital motion of the Earth.

    Intepreting the representation correctly makes a person an
    astronomer,to misintepret it as the plotted motions seen from a
    stationary Earth makes a person a Newtonian quasi-geocentrist.

    I refuse to believe that people would choose a less satisfying path
    than that which Kepler provided but then again, astronomy relies on the
    intuitive abilities of its proponents to thrive.These people have not
    been seen in centuries even though everyone has the faculties.

  5. #5
    oriel36's Avatar
    oriel36 Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs] wrote:

    It should have read partially heliocentric view as the retrograde loops
    approach the Earth annual motion.

    Commentators assume a stationary Earth but Kepler knew that geocentric
    plotting of the motion of the planets against the stellar background
    translated into the orbital motion of the planets against the Earth's
    annual orbital motion.

    What you see in the Panus Quadragesimalis is both the Earth's annual
    motion and also Mars annual orbital motion,the spacing of the
    retrograde loops are always differnet due to the overtaking of the
    Earth's orbital motion of Mars at different points in their respective
    orbits hence the different speeds determine the characteristics of the
    retrograsde loops.

    Perhaps you are better off sticking to effiminate geocentric
    sunset/sunrise times.

  6. #6
    Shawn's Avatar
    Shawn Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs]

    oriel36 wrote:

    It's an involuntary tic isn't it?
    Tourette's syndrome manifested through usenet.


  7. #7
    Mark S.'s Avatar
    Mark S. Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs]

    In article <1130525671.503395.56850@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups. com>, says...

    The San Fransisco Cronicle is also reporting the same...

    And the Cronicle also has a poor quality b/w picture showing two
    objects. My guess is that Mars/mag -2.2 is the bottom left object and
    Hamal (SAO75151)mag 2 is the object in the upper right of the picture.

    Regardless of what the objects are, one thing is for certain: it is
    sloppy journalism!

    Mark S.
    Davis, Ca. USA

  8. #8's Avatar Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs]

    Greg Crinklaw wrote:

    It was my first email to that reporter; how could any semblance of
    credibility for my criticism be established otherwise? I'd really like

    In any event, he emailed me that a correction will appear in tomorrow's

  9. #9
    Skywise's Avatar
    Skywise Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs] wrote in


    Based on the description and the accompanying photograph, my bet
    is on an aircraft with it's landing lights on the aircraft was
    pointed in the general direction of the observer.

    From where I live in Orange County I can observe aircraft going into
    LAX, Long Beach, and John Wayne airports. Sometimes, specifically
    for John Wayne, the aircraft appear to be approaching directly
    towards me some 10's of miles away as they descend into the pattern.
    Even at that distance their landing lights are easily brighter than
    Venus or Mars are now. They twinkle very heavily because the light
    path is through a lot of turbulent lower atmosphere. This turbulence
    also causes refraction effects making the lights change color.
    Although the planes are coming towards me, they are not coming
    perfectly at me, so they look to drift slowly. Then as they turn in
    the pattern they start to move faster and then fade, sometimes
    completely depending on atmospheric dimming from haze, etc.

    The description in the article was very simliar to what I have
    observed. Also, in the picture there are two dimmer lights lights on
    either side of the main bright light. The center light is the landing
    light while the outer two are the navigation beacons, red and green.
    On the top light it can easily be seen that the left is greenish and
    the faint one on the right is red. This is the correct orientation
    for the lights of an aircraft approaching the observer.

    -- - Lasers, Seismology, Astronomy, Skepticism
    Seismic FAQ:
    Quake "predictions":
    Sed quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?
    Supernews sucks - blocking google, & posts

  10. #10
    john carruthers's Avatar
    john carruthers Guest

    Default Bogus astronomy in the news [UFOs]

    >Apparently there were some unusual lights in the sky Wednesday in the
    San Francisco Bay Area. I didn't see them but this article about them
    appeared in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle:<<

    I've had enquiries like this, reporters don't want to hear "unidentified
    lights that could be any one of several things", it doesn't print so well.


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