Here’s how to determine Earth’s shape without trusting the government, astronaut testimony or spacecraft images.
The night’s brightest object is the Moon, of course. But the second-brightest? Surprisingly, most people don’t know. That’s why a dazzling apparition can now dominate the western sky, shining a hundred times more brightly than the brightest stars, and yet travel incognito. It’s Venus, the Evening Star, and she’s in her glory from now through August.
Earth’s climate gets cooler when there are fewer solar storms. An extreme example happened between 1645 and 1715, when the normal 11-year sunspot cycle disappeared! This period, called the Maunder Minimum, was accompanied by bitterly cold winters in the American colonies. Fishing settlements in Iceland and Greenland were abandoned. Icebergs were seen near the English Channel. The canals of Venice froze. It was a time of great hardship.
Everyone so assumed the US would create the first satellite that it was nationally traumatic to watch the Russian “star” glide overhead.
Pi represents the ratio between any circle’s diameter and its circumference, which is roughly 3.14. You probably know number freaks who have memorized the number to 100 decimal places. I’m one of them.
This always confuses people, who think, “If I’m made mostly of water, and the Moon pulls untold tons of seawater, why shouldn’t the Moon personally affect me?”
This week we face into the winter Milky Way, the spiral arm that’s opposite the galactic core. The Aztecs and Mayas regarded this luminescent band as the path taken by the newly departed en route to heaven. In medieval Europe it was called by its Latin name, Via Galactica, meaning “Milk Street.”
Of the ten first-magnitude stars in the heavens, eight of them will surround the Moon. You’ll notice that the star directly below the Moon is also the very brightest. This blue gem is the famous Dog Star: Sirius. It also happens to be the very closest star we can ever see from New York State.
A deadly anniversary: The 1918 pandemic killed as many people in one year as the Black Death claimed in a century.
From our un-light-polluted region, binoculars pointed at the belt show it immersed in a multitude of little stars, like a swarm of fireflies.