Astronomy, Science and Technology

About Me Forums Scorpio! Astronomy, Science and Technology

This topic contains 28 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Expecto Patronum 3 years, 7 months ago.

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    Expecto Patronum

    This was amusing the second time too. B-)


    Expecto Patronum

    Scientists found evidence of another planet beyond Pluto. But only ninth? #LovePluto 🙂


    Michelle Young

    Rest assured, Expecto,, this astrologer will continue to use Pluto in analyses. Why? Well, just because the International Astronomical Union (IAU) says Pluto’s not a planet doesn’t make it so when we’re talking about astrological analysis.

    It’s kind of amusing, I think, to have this divorce between the IAU and astrologers over Pluto as a planet (now that I’m over that initial sting from 2006): It reminds me of the words “What God [or whatever Higher Power in which one believes] joins together, let no man put asunder” because that also implies “can be rejoined.” It also implies that the IAU’s opinions about Pluto will actually count with astrologers–as if we would see the IAU as a Higher Power. Historically, astrologers and astronomers once shared the spotlight of higher thought under a broader umbrella.

    And then consider this: In the movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” we saw a focus on French cuisine being treated as the standard of all standards, the crème de la crème, as if to imply that no one could consider any other cuisine at the top of the maze of the world’s cuisines. That is, no one could consider–until a young man with layer after layer of gauze-wrapped hands taught Helen Mirin about the exquisite new flavors he could create–and use to entice her tastebuds–from Indian cuisine. This was an eye-opener for her, and it launched his personal road to success, the same personal road many just starting out seek. That doesn’t mean French cuisine is the god of the gourmet kitchen or the gourmand’s palate. IMO I see this as a standard to which French chefs may strive; but that doesn’t mean all chefs need to try to emulate in the same way.

    So while the IAU may be perceived as the god of all astronomers, it doesn’t mean all astrologers must bow down to the same rules. On the other hand, we can continue to try to achieve our own measures that may sometimes jar the scientific community and sometimes agree with them. We can recognize that we may be those gourmet chefs of another school.

    Mind you, I’m not saying to ignore science. I think we can work perhaps to achieve parallel standards while striving to achieve at least some of the same levels of understanding we see in the field of science–astronomy included–and we can use these as measures through which we can achieve an astrological standard of excellence that might appease astrologers (and maybe even astronomers, or at least the field of science? Okay, so I might be dreaming there! :whistle: ).

    I hope you see my point. (I hope, Expecto, others will consider joining in on this conversation which promises to be a marvelous discussion especially if the focus can stay healthy and avoid flames, etc. :yes: )


    Expecto Patronum

    Well said, M! Funny you mentioned “A Hundred Foot Journey”. I happened to have watched it recently. I understand that Astronomical Planet may be different than Astrological Planet. But, I always wonder where do we limit Astrology. Now with the new planet, do Astrologers count its effects too at some point? Would the new planet affect the calculations or is it a matter of analysis?


    Michelle Young

    Hi Expecto, you’ll want to consider that the scientists including IAU’s Mike Brown who ia now trying to convince us that this discovery–still unseen, mind you, should make up for his having “taken away” Pluto (not from astrology, but if he wants to make that claim, who am I to stop him? lol). Well, here’s the news story as Cal Tech explains it and notes that it has not been visually observed rather only mathematically.

    Now, in answer to your questions…

    But, I always wonder where do we limit Astrology. Now with the new planet, do Astrologers count its effects too at some point? Would the new planet affect the calculations or is it a matter of analysis?

    Astrological interpretation and analysis is always always a process of observation over many years so we can observe the transiting body through historical periods. As I recall Quouar has a 500-year transit. Compare that to the “mere” 248 years it takes Pluto and 165 years for Neptune to travel the zodiac. This new body is said to be much much farther out there.

    So the process of understanding how the analysis and interpretation will develop won’t be in our lifetimes to be sure. Still, if there is one, it will be up to us to determine the starting process, if there is one yet. Calculations won’t be affected. It’s a matter of lengthy observations to note the patterns inherent to analysis. Perhaps this would be mundane only. It’s hard to say.

    It changes little at this time. As for the role it will play, that will be up to future generations to determine–and that could be a few generations before that process begins. Great questions… What are your views on this?


    Expecto Patronum

    Physicists detect Gravitational Waves!
    Now this would make Einstein and Stephen Hawking very happy.

    “The phenomenon was detected by the collision of two black holes. Using the world’s most sophisticated detector, the scientists listened for 20 thousandths of a second as the two giant black holes, one 35 times the mass of the sun, the other slightly smaller, circled around each other.”


    Michelle Young

    lol Expecto, at times, I wonder if you ever sleep. :mail: Seriously, I had the URL and stories in consideration for another article. No worries. It’s fine. I have a few articles in mind, but first…the newsletter! I started this yesterday, and then I got waylaid after debating on the newest newsletter-only article I’d offer in that. So rest assured, I’m delighted you saw it! With that in mind, you probably will enjoy this as well. 😉


    Expecto Patronum

    “By pushing NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits, an international team of astronomers has shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the farthest galaxy ever seen in the universe. This surprisingly bright infant galaxy, named GN-z11, is seen as it was 13.4 billion years in the past, just 400 million years after the Big Bang. GN-z11 is located in the direction of the constellation of Ursa Major.”

    Hubble Team Breaks Cosmic Distance Record | NASA


    Michelle Young

    Exciting news that should keep Mike Brown of the IAU quite busy for a while and finally away from the Pluto debate! (Thanks to our own Christine for this cosmic pearl!)

    NASA’s Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered
    Artist's concept of select planetary discoveries to date by NASA's Kepler space telescope. NASA - W Stenzel
    Artist’s concept of select planetary discoveries to date by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. NASA – W Stenzel

    NASA’s Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets – the single largest finding of planets to date.

    “This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth.”

    Analysis was performed on the Kepler space telescope’s July 2015 planet candidate catalog, which identified 4,302 potential planets. For 1,284 of the candidates, the probability of being a planet is greater than 99 percent – the minimum required to earn the status of “planet.” An additional 1,327 candidates are more likely than not to be actual planets, but they do not meet the 99 percent threshold and will require additional study. The remaining 707 are more likely to be some other astrophysical phenomena. This analysis also validated 984 candidates previously verified by other techniques.

    “Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy. Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars,” said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters. “This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever-closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe.”

    Kepler captures the discrete signals of distant planets – decreases in brightness that occur when planets pass in front of, or transit, their stars – much like the May 9 Mercury transit of our sun. Since the discovery of the first planets outside our solar system more than two decades ago, researchers have resorted to a laborious, one-by-one process of verifying suspected planets.

    This latest announcement, however, is based on a statistical analysis method that can be applied to many planet candidates simultaneously. Timothy Morton, associate research scholar at Princeton University in New Jersey and lead author of the scientific paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, employed a technique to assign each Kepler candidate a planet-hood probability percentage – the first such automated computation on this scale, as previous statistical techniques focused only on sub-groups within the greater list of planet candidates identified by Kepler.

    “Planet candidates can be thought of like bread crumbs,” said Morton. “If you drop a few large crumbs on the floor, you can pick them up one by one. But, if you spill a whole bag of tiny crumbs, you’re going to need a broom. This statistical analysis is our broom.”

    In the newly-validated batch of planets, nearly 550 could be rocky planets like Earth, based on their size. Nine of these orbit in their sun’s habitable zone, which is the distance from a star where orbiting planets can have surface temperatures that allow liquid water to pool. With the addition of these nine, 21 exoplanets now are known to be members of this exclusive group.

    “They say not to count our chickens before they’re hatched, but that’s exactly what these results allow us to do based on probabilities that each egg (candidate) will hatch into a chick (bona fide planet),” said Natalie Batalha, co-author of the paper and the Kepler mission scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “This work will help Kepler reach its full potential by yielding a deeper understanding of the number of stars that harbor potentially habitable, Earth-size planets — a number that’s needed to design future missions to search for habitable environments and living worlds.”

    Of the nearly 5,000 total planet candidates found to date, more than 3,200 now have been verified, and 2,325 of these were discovered by Kepler. Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to find potentially habitable Earth-size planets. For four years, Kepler monitored 150,000 stars in a single patch of sky, measuring the tiny, telltale dip in the brightness of a star that can be produced by a transiting planet. In 2018, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will use the same method to monitor 200,000 bright nearby stars and search for planets, focusing on Earth and Super-Earth-sized.

    Ames manages the Kepler missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system, with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.


    Expecto Patronum

    Nice article. We are missing a ‘like’ button.


    Michelle Young

    I just posted a new article in Astrology of the Unexpected Kind in the News, and immediately after, I remembered this thread! Mea culpa!

    You’ll find that article, “Large Hadron Collider finds three new particles, confirms fourth” over there. Again, with my apologies.

    If you go there before reading my next post (I have it set to open in the same tab), I hope you’ll remember to come back here because I have more news to share from CERN! They’ve been busy this week!


    Michelle Young

    Help the Higgs find its siblings!

    Interested in joining a citizen science project called HiggsHunters to help CERN locate Higgs boson’s relatives? is looking for people who would like an opportunity to “uncover the building blocks of the universe” and “help search for unkonwn exotic particles in the LHC data!’ By making use of a citizen science platform called Zooniverse, you can help to look for ‘baby Higgs bosons’, which leave a characteristic trace in the ATLAS detector. More than 20000 amateur scientist from 179 nations have scoured images of LHC collisions for the past 2 years in search of still undiscovered particles.
    CERN - How the particles appear in the collider
    “There are tasks – even in this high-tech world – where the human eye and the human brain simply win out,” says Professor Alan Barr of the University of Oxford, who is leading the project.

    The (link is external) project is a collaboration between the University of Oxford and the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and NYU in the United States. It makes use of the Zooniverse citizen science platform, which hosts over 40 projects from searches for new astrophysical objects in telescope surveys to following the habits of wildlife in the Serengeti. The HiggsHunters project shows collisions recorded by the ATLAS experiment and uses software and display tools developed by the ATLAS collaboration. The scientists gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, the University of Oxford, and Merton College, Oxford.

    You can also get involved in other citizen science projects through LHC@home, a volunteer computing platform where you donate idle time on your computer to help physicists compare theory with experiment in the search for new fundamental particles and answers to questions about the Universe. ​

    See? I said there was more, and pretty exciting “more” at that, I think. Wouldn’t you agree? 😉


    Michelle Young

    August 5, 2016 Hubble’s Sky Full of Stars!
    Globular Cluster NGC 4833
    Located approximately 22,000 light-years away in the constellation of Musca (The Fly), this tightly packed collection of stars — known as a globular cluster — goes by the name of NGC 4833. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the dazzling stellar group in all its glory.

    NGC 4833 is one of the over 150 globular clusters known to reside within the Milky Way. These objects are thought to contain some of the oldest stars in our galaxy. Studying these ancient cosmic clusters can help astronomers to unravel how a galaxy formed and evolved, and give an idea of the galaxy’s age.

    Globular clusters are responsible for some of the most striking sights in the cosmos, with hundreds of thousands of stars congregating in the same region of space. Hubble has observed many of these clusters during its time in orbit around our planet, each as breathtaking as the last.

    Image credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA
    Text credit: European Space Agency

    Last Updated: Aug. 5, 2016
    Editor: Ashley Morrow

    And of course, what goes with this sky full of stars from NASA? Who else but…


    Expecto Patronum

    Book your place to see the Total Solar Eclipse this August, after 99 years in the United States.

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