Exposing PseudoAstronomy

May 25, 2012

Eclipses and Pole Shifts


Introduction

First, this post is a bit of a show-off for my recent photography. That said, it is also a musing on one of the more bizarre claims out there that the sun and/or moon are no longer rising/setting where they’re “supposed” to.

So let’s get the first part over with first …

My Photos and Video from the May 20, 2012, Annular Eclipse

With two friends, I drove 480 miles south to just outside of Albuquerque, NM (Richard C. Hoagland territory!). We were in the path of full annularity, and we set up in a beautiful spot with no people around us and clear sight to the western horizon.

I took a long sequence of photos and created a few montages and even a movie. I’m only posting three of the montages (I don’t like the third one, but I’m posting it anyway). These are only 6% full size, and you can only get to it by clicking on the image to have it open in a new browser. The full-res versions are suitable for printing at 72″ wide at 300ppi … that’s a lot of pixels and brings my computer to a crawl when I open it.

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 0, Version 1.3

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 0, Version 1.3 (click to embiggen)

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 2c, Version 1.3

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 2c, Version 1.3 (click to embiggen)

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 4, Version 1.1

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 4, Version 1.1 (click to embiggen)

And here’s the movie:

I’m not going to go into image processing details here. If you’re interested, I posted a lengthy thread about it here that goes through all the gritty details.

Relevance to the Crazy Conspiracy

I’ve not addressed this conspiracy before on this blog, but I have in my podcast, Episode #24, “Help! The Sun (or Moon) Is Moving!” The premise is, as I said before, that the sun and/or moon is no longer rising or setting or in the sky where it previously was, or where it’s “supposed” to be.

The answer to this is that it always shifts position though the cycle repeats annually. It shifts because Earth’s axis is constantly pointing towards the North Celestial Pole, so as Earth orbits around the sun over the course of a year, the angle the sun makes with the horizon changes. It rises and sets closer to your hemisphere’s pole during your hemisphere’s summer, and vice versa.

The implication by most conpsiracists that I’ve heard – if they have an implication other than generally “something’s happening that NASA’s covering up!” – is that we are in the midst of a geographic pole shift that THEY don’t want you to know about. Again, I’ve addressed pole shifts before (such as here or here).

“How is this relevant to eclipses?” you may ask.

Folks at NASA, as well as innumerable other people, have provided paths of past and future eclipses out to over 1000 years into the future. Both solar and lunar (1000 for lunar, 100 for solar from NASA).

And, at least since I’ve been using the site for the last decade, they’ve all been 100% accurate! The point is that this would not be possible at all if we were undergoing a pole shift. Even a tiny pole shift, where I’m defining “tiny” by, say, 1° which would not be noticeable to these people claiming the sun/moon is in the wrong place, would shift the path of solar eclipses by a non-trivial amount.

And yet, these eclipses continue to demonstrably and perhaps stubbornly be where they were predicted to be decades ago.

Final Thoughts

This is something that I like about science and get a great sense of “ah ha!” when I come across it: Conspiracists, pseudoscientists, and others who claim to be re-writing science do so in isolation. They do not realize – or they choose to ignore – what the implications would be for their claims outside of their one phenomenon.

In this case, if Earth were undergoing any sort of geographic pole shift, the annular solar eclipse that we witnessed last weekend would not have taken place where it had been predicted. A shift of 1° of the poles would have shifted the eclipse’s path by around 70 miles (110 km). If we were in a pole shift of more than around 0.5°, I would not have seen the moon completely within the sun’s disk from where I was in Albuquerque.

And it’s really as simple as that. Claims in science do not exist in isolation. You must carry them through and apply them to all other things that rely upon that data.

May 23, 2012

Episode 37 – Follow-up (Interview!) on Space Law


Episode 37 has been posted. It’s a ~45-minute interview with a lawyer pair where we discuss space law for the past and how it may need to change for the future. It is a somewhat unusual episode for me, but I honestly found it fascinating and I hope that you do, too.

May 19, 2012

Podcast Episode 36 BONUS! – GAPs Young-Earth Creationists Must Believe or Ignore (Geology, Astronomy, Physics)


I ended up giving my talk anon how YECs arrive at their conclusion of a young Earth versus how “secular scientists” do it. This episode has been posted in both audio and video. Hopefully they both work, and hopefully not too many will yell at me for posting a 90 MB video without warning to the RSS feed. The video is MP4 format … that is the general universal format these days, right?

May 16, 2012

Podcast Episode 35 – Apollo Hoax Photos, Part 2


Slightly late, episode 35 has been posted. I go over four photography claims dealing with crosshairs and shadows.

I’m also considering experimenting with making this episode (and potentially some other visual ones) into YouTube-type videos. Let me know what you think.

Oh, and this episode introduces a new segment — new news related to previous episodes.

May 15, 2012

Planet X: Birthdays Are a Time to Think About Planet X


Introduction

I just completed another round ’bout the Sun on Monday and spent the day sleeping in, eating doughnuts, and playing computer games. But, to those in the know, birthdays are a time to pause and reflect upon one of the more crazy Planet X ideas out there.

Lifetimes

The lifespan of a fruit fly is about 1/12th of a year. The lifespan of a dog or cat is around 15-20ish years. The lifespan of a human is around 75ish years, though that has varied considerably over the past few hundred years and varies today based on gender, socioeconomic status, country, etc. … but we’ll go with 75 as a nice, round number. The lifespan of a bristlecone pine is in the thousands of years.

Implicit in that paragraph is that “year” means “Earth year,” or roughly 365.24219 days. That must mean if we lived on another planet, we’d live for more or less time ’cause the year’s different right?

Anunaki and Planet X

As I said at the beginning, this is one of the more crazy claims. I can’t recall a guest specifically stating this as fact on Coast to Coast AM except to say specifically that the aliens (Anunaki) who supposedly came to Earth under Zecharia Sitchen’s ideas of Planet X (Nibiru) to make a slave race to mine gold (us!) lived for tens of thousands of years. They state that with fact.

But while a guest may not have gone the next step, I have often heard the host, George Noory, state unequivocally that the reason these aliens lived longer is because Nibiru has a 3600-(Earth)-year-long orbit … so they live 75 of their years, which is 270,000 of our years! So a fruit fly from Nibiru should live, instead of one Earth month, 300 Earth years!

Um … WHAT?!

Noory’s said some head-bangers in the past, some real doozies. But this one definitely ranks up there. If there’s a biologist out there, feel free to correct me, but I’m pretty sure that how long it takes Earth to go around the sun has absolutely nothing to do with how long something lives. You can look at the diversity of lifespans of different things on Earth to see that.

From my few biology classes over a decade ago (without saying what birthday I had on Monday …), we die because our cells can no longer maintain themselves and reproduce effectively/successfully. I think this has something to do with telomeres, but I’m sure people like Ray Kurzwell have a few other reasons why things die.

But suffice to say, it’s not because it take a certain length of time for us to go around the sun.

Final Thoughts

Um … to summarize: No, I would not be celebrating 3600 times as many Earth birthdays if I lived on the mythical planet Nibiru.

May 14, 2012

The Simpsons, Episode 21, Season 23, and Some Great Quotes

Filed under: astronomy,creationism — Stuart Robbins @ 12:01 am
Tags: , , ,

Yes, it’s one of the few current TV shows I watch. Tonight’s Simpsons had some excellent quotes and imagery. Let’s see …

There was Prof. Frink watching Homer in “The Passion” and after he delivers one line, Frink says: “I’m so moved I renounce science, with the facts and peer-reviews and hypotheses tested by evidence.”

Then there’s Edna Krabapple in a parent-teacher conference at Rod and Todd’s private Christian school (“Onward Christian Schoolboys Academy”). The teacher is surprised that Edna teaches at: “Public school!? Well I’ll be a monkey’s unrelated creature.”

Edna responds, asking, “You do have science here, right?”

To which the teacher pulls down the following map and proclaims, “Behold! Advanced astronomy!”

"Advanced Astronomy" (Simpsons, Episode 23/21)

“Advanced Astronomy” (Simpsons, Episode 23/21) (click to embiggen)

There’s more, but not quite as relevant to this blog in terms of what I’ve discussed before with regards to the scientific method and young-Earth creationism.

May 12, 2012

Some Boring New Results Show We’re Still Not Going to Cross the Galaxy In December 2012


Introduction

Many œons ago, I wrote about how we’re not going to cross the galaxy’s equator in 2012. It’s one of those ideas about a physical galactic alignment that some people believe – we’re really actually physically going to cross the equator/plane of the galaxy in December 2012 (or a window around that date) and bad stuff is going to happen as a result.

I explained in that post that, no, we’re not. The latest data I had on-hand is:

[The sun] is about 35-70 light-years “above” it (since there’s no “up” in space, you could also say it lies below it). It is also currently still traveling “upwards” in the direction of the North Galactic Pole at a rate of 7-8 km/sec.

It is also not on a perfectly circular orbit relative to the plane of the galaxy, moving presently inward at a rate of 10-11 km/sec. Its rotational velocity around the center of the galaxy is about 200 km/sec.

New research announced this past week changes that.

We’re Still Okay

The new research comes from a Science paper by McComas et al. entitled, “The Heliosphere’s Interstellar Interaction: No Bow Shock.”

Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty details, the article talks about new observations by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer spacecraft, also known as IBEX. The craft has been observing neutral atoms – meaning that they have no net electric charge – to understand the environment of the galaxy that the solar system is moving through.

The new result from this article that’s relevant to 2012 doomsday stuff is that the latest results from IBEX have revised the speed with which we thought the solar system was moving through the galaxy. We thought the sun was moving through the interstellar neighborhood at around 26 km/sec, but that value has now been revised downward to about 23 km/sec, or by around 11%.

NEW NASA DATA FROM NASA SCIENTISTS SEZ WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!

Okay, but seriously folks, this is not a huge huge deal in terms of this upsets everything we thought we knew about the universe. This is how science works. New data comes in that has incrementally increased our understanding of something. We’re still far from the plane of the galaxy, we’re still moving away from the plane of the galaxy, just we’re moving a little more slowly.

As in, we’re not moving more quickly in the other direction towards the galactic plane so that we pass through it in seven months.

Final Thoughts

That’s about all I have to say on this one. I found the paper a bit interesting and since it remotely applied to something that I’d discussed before, thought I’d share.

And it lets me muse about how people will use old data to support their pseudoscientific ideas and NOT revise them when new data comes out that differs (remember how 2012, back in 2004, was supposed to be a huge, ginormous, deadly solar max — something that’s still repeated often?).

Which incidentally leads me to mention that I’m going to start a new segment with the next episode of my podcast, a “new news relevant to previous episodes.” This’ll be one of those news items on the May 16th episode.

May 8, 2012

Podcast #34 – The Giza Pyramid / Orion Correlation


This is a somewhat shorter episode, just under 20 minutes, where I look into the idea of whether or not the three major Giza pyramids line up with the three main belt stars of Orion. Given the tagline of, “Learn about how two points magically make a line and how three points roughly corresponding to three other points has mystical and profound implications!” you may be able to tell that I was not impressed with the arguments.

If you’d rather not listen to the episode, a summary of the conclusions can be found in the image below:

May 2, 2012

Key Topics for a Young-Earth Creationism Talk on Geology, Astronomy, and Phyiscs

Filed under: astronomy,creationism,geology,physics — Stuart Robbins @ 4:07 pm

This Saturday, May 5 (as in, in 3 days), I’ll be giving a half-hour talk entitled, “GAPs Young-Earth Creationists Must Believe or Ignore (Geology, Astronomy, Physics.” I’ve written a lot about YEC on this blog, so narrowing topics down to be explained well within a half-hour window is a bit difficult.

I’ve already given a talk before where I talked about radiometric dating, Earth’s magnetic field, comets, spiral galaxies, and universal constants. But, these were more targeted mini-topics and didn’t really tell a cohesive story. I’d like to make this talk more a top-down picture hitting large, broad topics that creationists use … rather than the bottom-up “let’s pick a bunch of random topics and discuss them” approach of my previous talk.

I’m having a brain freeze at the moment, so I’m soliciting ideas from you. I think, if nothing else, I do need to tie in the Magical Noah’s Flood that is used to explain fossil layers, craters and water on Mars, Earth’s magnetic field, old radiometric ages, etc. Maybe that could be used as a branching point?

Please feel free to leave some ideas in the comments section!

May 1, 2012

Podcast Episode 33: Flat Earth

Filed under: astronomy,flat earth concept,podcast — Stuart Robbins @ 10:38 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This episode only has a ~12-minute main segment and then a short Q&A. You can stop at the 11 min 45 sec. point if that’s all you’re interested in. It’s the Feedback section that I spent around 8 minutes on, going into some detail on feedback from Episode 32 (Billy Meier UFO case), Episode 31 (Moon Hoax photos), and some general feedback for the show. The puzzler starts at about 22 minutes.

I’m not entirely sure what the next episode will be. I have a presentation to give at the local coin club Thursday, Skepticamp Denver all day Saturday (and still need to write that talk). And I have a lot of baking to do for that, too :). So, next episode will either be a recording of my Skepticamp talk, or it will be about pyramids and Orion’s belt.

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