Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax"

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax"

Philip C. Plait

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0471409766

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Advance praise for Philip Plait s Bad Astronomy

"Bad Astronomy is just plain good! Philip Plait clears up every misconception on astronomy and space you never knew you suffered from." --Stephen Maran, Author of Astronomy for Dummies and editor of The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia

"Thank the cosmos for the bundle of star stuff named Philip Plait, who is the world s leading consumer advocate for quality science in space and on Earth. This important contribution to science will rest firmly on my reference library shelf, ready for easy access the next time an astrologer calls." --Dr. Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of The Borderlands of Science

"Philip Plait has given us a readable, erudite, informative, useful, and entertaining book. Bad Astronomy is Good Science. Very good science..." --James "The Amazing" Randi, President, James Randi Educational Foundation, and author of An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

"Bad Astronomy is a fun read. Plait is wonderfully witty and educational as he debunks the myths, legends, and 'conspiracies that abound in our society. 'The Truth Is Out There' and it's in this book. I loved it!" --Mike Mullane, Space Shuttle astronaut and author of Do Your Ears Pop in Space?

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Was too young to understand it then, but I now know that the wobble is due to the interplay of complicated forces on the spinning top. If the axis of the top is not exactly vertical, gravity pulls the top off-center. This is called a torque. Because the top is spinning, you can think of that force being deflected horizontally, making the top slowly wobble. The same thing would happen if the top were spinning in space and you poked it slightly off center. The axis would wobble, making little.

Experiment performed by Long Island University psychologist Lloyd Kaufman and his physicist son, James, of IBM's Almaden Research Center. They used a device that allowed subjects to judge their perceived distance from the Moon. The apparatus projected two images of the Moon onto the sky. One image was fixed like the real Moon, and the other was adjustable in size. The subjects were asked to change the apparent size of the adjustable image until it looked like it was halfway between them and the.

Jupiter, and Saturn were in very roughly the same section of the sky. Even the new Moon slid into this picture at that time, making this a very pretty family portrait indeed, although it was a bit of a dysfunctional family. This particular alignment wasn't a very good one, and even if it had been, the Sun was between us and the planets like an unwelcome relative standing in front of the TV set during the football playoffs. The fact that this wasn't a particularly grand alignment is easy to show.

You are an ant, and you live on a flat sheet that extends infinitely in every direction. To you, there is no up or down; all there is is forward, back, left, and right. If you start walking, you can walk forever and always get farther from where you started. But now I'm going to play a trick on you. I take you off the sheet and put you on a basketball. You can still only move in back or forth, ahead or back. But now, if you start walking straight, eventually you'll get back to where you started.

She repeats the name after me, but moves on to another star as quickly as she can. She wants to know all their names. That's a tall order. There's no shortage of stars in the night sky. A keen-eyed observer-if the conditions are right-can see several thousand stars with the unaided eye. With even a modest telescope, hundreds of thousands of individual stars can be seen. The Hubble Space Telescope, in order to stay pointed at a target, employs a guide-star catalog that contains tens of millions.

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