Category Archives: Astrology

John Anthony West Interview w. Joe Rogan

John Anthony West is an author, lecturer, guide and a proponent of Sphinx water erosion hypothesis in geology.

Definitely an interview worth checking out if your into Pyramids, mysteries and cosmic controversy.


Three Potentially Habitable Planets

The search for potentially life-bearing exoplanets got a hefty boost this Monday, with the discovery of three Earth-sized worlds orbiting an ultracool dwarf star only 39 light years distant from our own solar system. The planets, described today in Nature, are such close cosmic neighbors that astronomers expect to root out precise details about their masses, atmospheres, chemical makeup, and thermal structure—as well as their potential habitability—with future observations.

“[With] the measurement of the masses, we should have enough information to constrain the surface conditions, notable to assess the existence of liquid water,” Michaël Gillon, astronomer at the Université de Liège and lead author of the new research, told me via email.

“The most exciting part is, of course, that these observations could also reveal chemical disequilibria originating from biological activity,” he continued.

In other words, astronomers hope to detect “biomarkers” such as oxygen, ozone, methane, or other substances that might have been produced by extraterrestrial life. While many of these markers can also be produced by non-biological processes, these three alien worlds are close enough to be studied with much greater scrutiny than most exoplanets, so it will be easier to pick up finer details about their habitability.

“In such a case, by comparing carefully all the possible scenarios involving abiotic and biological origins to the found disequilibria, a firm (and maybe positive!) conclusion about the presence of life at the surface could be obtained,” Gillon said.

Gillon and his colleagues discovered this tantalizing triplet of planets using the TRansiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) facility in Chile, which is delightfully named for Belgian Trappist beer. These “red worlds” orbit a tiny star called TRAPPIST-1, roughly the size of Jupiter, which is classed as an “ultracool” dwarf because it has an effective temperature below 2,700 Kelvin (for comparison, the Sun’s effective temperature is 5,772 Kelvin).

Comparison of the Sun against TRAPPIST-1. Image: ESO

The two innermost planets, TRAPPIST-1b and TRAPPIST-1c, orbit the star every 1.51 days and 2.42 days, which results in them receiving about four times and two times as much solar radiation as Earth, respectively. This puts them a little too close to their host star to be considered in the habitable “Goldilocks” zone, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that localized life might flourish on them in certain regions (more on that later).

The third planet, TRAPPIST-1d, is either within or just beyond the habitable zone, though its exact orbital period is still unclear. Based on size measurements made as the planets transited in front of their star, the three planets are no more than twice as massive as Earth, at the most.

But though they are comparable in size to our own world, these planets offer a drastically different environment for any speculative lifeforms on them. For starters, all three planets occupy such tight orbits that they are likely to be tidally locked to TRAPPIST-1, much like the Moon is to Earth, which means that only one side of each planet faces its stellar host.

Short feature on the TRAPPIST-1 discovery. Video: European Southern Observatory (ESO)/YouTube

This is a crucial factor to consider when evaluating a planetary body as a potentially life-bearing world. “The problem for habitability is that one face could be super-hot and the other super-cold, so cold that the atmosphere could freeze and collapse,” Gillon explained.

On the other hand, tidal locking might also be “a huge advantage for life,” he added. It’s possible, for instance, that eastbound winds stirred up on the daytime face of these planets create mild conditions along their western regions. “The western terminator could be colder than the dayside [face], enough to have conditions suitable for liquid water, and maybe life, even for a planet that is slightly [too close in] to be in the habitable zone.”

The only way to find out for sure is to continue studying the TRAPPIST-1 system with even more powerful and versatile telescopes, like the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope or European Extremely Large Telescope. To get the word out, Gillon and his colleagues have just launched a new website to keep the public up to date and engaged on TRAPPIST’s ongoing exoplanetary discoveries.

According to the team, ultracool dwarf star systems like TRAPPIST-1 make up about 15 percent of the stars in the vicinity of our solar system, so they are a particularly promising population to sift through in the search for proximate Earth analogs. Given that many of the most famous “Earth-like” exoplanets discovered so far are typically hundreds—or even thousands—of light year away, it’s heartening to find out that there are some premium candidates cooling their heels in our own backyard.

Source – MotherBoard 

The 9th Planet ?

Earlier this year, Mike Brown—an astronomer at Caltech who is famous for his role in the (somewhat controversial) planetary demotion of Pluto—offered, seemingly by way of atonement, evidence for the existence of a large planet in the outer Solar System.

But this distant world would be no pipsqueak, like the other icy, planetary embryos that we’ve discovered in the Kuiper Belt.

In fact, Brown and his team calculated a mass for the object of approximately 10 times the Earth’s, suggesting that it was the incipient core of a giant planet (like Jupiter or Saturn) that was jostled in the early phases of the Solar System’s formation, and rudely ejected into an astonishing 149 billion-kilometer (92 billion-mile) orbit, or nearly 75 times more distant than Pluto.

That means the hypothetical planet’s “year” can last anywhere from 10,000-20,000 terrestrial years.

Now, the evidence for the existence of such an object is indirect—specifically, the effect it seems to be having on neighboring outer Solar System bodies, called Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). Six of these objects had been detected with wildly eccentric orbits, including the large planetoid Sedna, with an orbital period of 11,000 years.

Image of a slide showing the orbits of the KBOs suspected of betraying the presence of a Planet Nine.  The orbit of the newly discovered, seventh KBO is the largest (“uo3L91”).  Credit: OSSOS via Mike Brown’s Twitter feed.


A team of astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS) have now detected a seventh such object, called “uo3L91.”

“Hey Planet Nine fans, a new eccentric KBO was discovered. And it is exactly where Planet Nine says it should be,” Mike Brown tweeted. Furthermore, he says, the new object “takes the probability of this being a statistical fluke down to ~.001% or so.”

Whether this hypothetical, 10 Earth-mass planet is the famed “Nemesis” object, said to be responsible for cometary influxes that cause mass extinctions on Earth, remains to be seen (though astronomers are, understandably, skeptical); but with the detection of uo3L91, the case for something massive lurking in the outer Solar System, and affecting the orbits of distant planetoids, just got a little bit stronger.

But we’ll have to wait and see. Perhaps more such detections will let us nail down the giant planet’s orbital path; maybe then we’ll be able to snap a picture of it with some next-gen Earth-based telescope.

Till then, keep your eyes peeled for more eccentric KBOs.

Source – Futurism

Strange Planet Orbit

Astronomers have discovered the most unusual planetary orbit ever, given away by a flash of reflected light beamed back by the planet’s atmosphere.

While most planets (including those in our Solar System) have roughly circular orbits, researchers have spotted some exceptions that form an elliptical path around their star. The newly discovered planet HD 20782 has the weirdest one yet: a long, flat ellipse that takes the planet way out into space before it ‘slingshots’ around its star at a very close distance.

Consider the distance between Earth and the Sun, around 149 million km (93 million miles). At the most distant point, HD 20782 and its star are 2.5 times further apart than this – at their closest point, they’re just six-hundredths of the same distance from each other (that’s much closer than Mercury is to the Sun).

Weigh those distances up, and you can begin to see just how unusual this planet’s orbit is.

A team from researchers from San Francisco State University used a satellite-based telescope to catch a flash of reflected light from HD 20782’s atmosphere as it flew around its star, thus helping to confirm the path the planet is taking.

Unlike other planets, HD 20782 doesn’t have time to react to the brightness of its star. Icy materials in the atmosphere are what make a planet reflective, but you would expect these materials to burn up as they get close to a star. In the strange case of HD 20782, there isn’t time for that to happen.

“[The planet is] around the mass of Jupiter, but it’s swinging around its star like it’s a comet,” said lead researcher Stephen Kane.

Now the question is: what caused HD 20782’s unique orbit? It might have collided with another planet, Kane’s team suggests, or the gravitational pull of another star might have something to do with it.

“When we see a planet like this that is in an eccentric orbit, it can be really hard to try and explain how it got that way,” Kane says. “It’s kind of like looking at a murder scene, like those people who examine blood spatter patterns on the walls. You know something bad has happened, but you need to figure out what it was that caused it.”

HD 20782, which is some 117 light-years away from Earth, offers a “particularly lucrative observing opportunity”, according to the astronomers. Now they want to gather more data to understand how the planet handles such a brief and blistering close encounter with its sun, and to look more closely at the planet’s atmosphere.

See the graphic below, which shows the orbit of the planet HD 20782 relative to the inner planets of our Solar System. HD 20782’s orbit more closely resembles that of a comet than a planet.

Kane orbit

Oxygen on Rosettas Comet?

Ah, Rosetta, everyone’s favourite comet orbiter. The European Space Agency spacecraft that made a splash when it launched a lander onto the surface of Comet 67P is continuing to gather scientific data about its target, and today researchers announced an unexpected exciting discovery: molecular oxygen.

Rosetta’s ROSINA instrument—a mass spectrometer—detected O2 in the icy body’s coma, the cloud of gas and dust and other space stuff around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. More exciting still, the researchers behind the find, which was published Wednesday in Nature, reckon the O2 is “primordial” oxygen, i.e. that it came from the cloud of molecules from which our Solar System was formed.

In a phone call, lead author André Bieler explained the team found a strong signal of oxygen early on in the Rosetta mission. “But we were so surprised that we initially didn’t know exactly what to do, or why it would be there, and what to do with it, so we decided to just keep monitoring for a while and see what happens.”

So why is it such an exciting find? Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the Universe, but while it’s been detected on some icy bodies in the Solar System, such as planets’ moons, it’d only ever been found in two interstellar clouds, and never in a comet. “No one was expecting it to be there,” said Bieler of the team’s finding.

Image: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam

The researchers observed 67P’s coma from September 2014 to March 2015 and saw a mean value of 3.8 percent molecular oxygen. What’s most important, however, is that this didn’t change as the comet continued onward and approached the Sun. Bieler explained that if the oxygen was only on the surface of the comet, they would have seen a decrease in the ratio of oxygen as the comet burned up and lost gas.

They write that “the preferred explanation of our observations is the incorporation of primordial O2 into the cometary nucleus.”

The presence of this oxygen in the comet’s nucleus suggests it was there when the comet was formed—and was therefore present in the molecular cloud that birthed the planets (as comets are basically leftover material).

“I think we have to kind of rethink our models.”

This adds to our knowledge of the early days of the Solar System—or at least questions it. “Current Solar System formation models do not predict conditions that would allow this to occur,” the authors note.

“One implication is that the accretion [the coming-together of cosmic dust to form the comet] had to be pretty gentle in order for the O2 in the ice to survive,” Bieler explained. “Otherwise I think we have to kind of rethink our models.”

Next, Bieler said they’d like to look at the southern hemisphere of 67P; these new measurements come from the northern hemisphere, as that side facing the Sun (Rosetta is powered by solar arrays). In the future, he said we should also look at other comets for comparison. The Rosetta mission is of course unique in its close targeting of a comet, and previous cometary missions haven’t had the technology capable of detecting oxygen.

The new paper is an example of one of the major scientific aims of the Rosetta mission: using the comet as something of an interstellar time capsule to explore the early days of our own Solar System.

Source: Motherboard

Book Select : The Only Astrology Book You Will Ever Need

This edition of The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need still includes detailed information about how to cast your own chart the old-fashioned way and how to interpret it once you’re finished. The new downloadable software allows you to cast your chart in just

minutes by inputting the date, time, and place of birth resulting in a personalized astrological chart. Upon completion of the chart, use the book to read more about your moon signs, sun signs, and much more.  Woolfolk, the horoscope columnist for Marie Claire and Redbook magazines, has updated her classic guide for the first time in 19 years. Thoroughly covered here are sun signs, moon signs, planets, and the significance of the 12 zodiacal houses, as well as the most recent discoveries in astronomy and 21st-century projections. The author gives an easy, logical way to integrate the interpretations of the sun signs, moon signs, planets, and houses in any given chart, something not easily done or often seen in general astrology books. The book’s only shortcoming is its lack of instruction on making a detailed technical chart, which is necessary if one is to cast a complete and accurate horoscope. However, Woolfolk compensates for this by teaching a simplified method that is about 90 percent accurate enough to get a beginner started and includes a bibliography for further instruction. Astronomical tables are included to help cast the simplified chart. A great bargain for the price, this is highly recommended for all astrology collections. Marija Sanderling, Nesmith Lib., Windham, NH
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The Largest Astronomy Photo

(© Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB)

While we can’t show you the entire image, this is a piece of it revealing one of the most active stars in our galaxy called Eta Carinae (identified by the red arrow) and is gaseous environment called the Carina nebula (shown in green).

The largest astronomical image ever made is so big we can’t even show it here.

To see this brilliant masterpiece in all its beauty, you’ll have to use this online tool, which not only shows the image but also has a search feature you can use to identify specific objects.

Generated from five years of observations in one of the driest places on Earth, the image is of our home galaxy the Milky Way.

And it reveals something amazing: 50,000 never-before-seen variable objects that will undoubtedly help astronomers in their search for planets outside of our solar system.

Space just got a little more crowded.

Variable objects get their name from the fact that the light we receive from them varies over time. This can happen when a second object, like a planet or star, passes in front of the variable object and temporarily blocks some of its light.

For this reason, variable objects are a vital tool in many fields of astronomy, including the search for planets around other stars that could harbor extraterrestrial intelligence.

Astronomers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany spent night after night snapping pictures of the southern sky at their university observatory in the Atacama Desert, in ChileSnow_Comes_to_the_Atacama_Desert

(Uploaded by Stas1995 on Wikipedia)
Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Next to the frozen deserts at the North and South Poles, the Atacama Desert is the driest placeon Earth. Some parts are so arid that no plants or animals can survive.

These extreme conditions are an observational astronomer’s paradise. The dry air means few cloudy nights, clear skies, and most importantly, limited moisture to absorb or deflect precious light from faint cosmic objects, including variable objects.

(Bruno Gilli/ESO)

Under these pristine conditions, the astronomers focused on the iconic bright band across the sky that shines from the densely packed stars near the center of our galaxy..
A fish-eye mosaic of the Milky Way arching across the night sky. Our home galaxy is about 100,000 light-years long.

To spot the variable objects, they take pictures of the same spot in the sky over several days and then compare them.

The team’s work spanned such a large region of the sky that they first divided the photos up into 268 sections and then combined them forming what is the largest, single astronomical image to date. It contains 47 billion pixels and took several weeks to process.

By identifying over 50,000 new variable objects, these astronomers have contributed an invaluable data set for future investigations of other solar systems and their planets.