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Who Loves the Sun?
1999-12-21 12:12:55


Weird Science
 
Better seek treatment before you start imagining that Marilyn Monroe is your mom.
-- Master Squid

 

So, tonight around 11:45PM PST the winter solstice will occur. Beaujolais to that! And it's a full moon, too! Also Beaujolais! There's a bunch of other weird elliptic mathematical things going on, too, but who cares? Go enjoy the moon.

The link at the end of this story is to a page at the Old Farmer's Almanac that you've probably already heard about. Apparently this year the winter solstice coincides with the full moon AND with the lunar perigee -- meaning the moon will be closest to the earth, and the earth closest to the sun, than it's ever been since 1866 or so. Which SHOULD mean that the moon will be HUGE and BRIGHT and WONDERFUL in the night sky.

But apparently a bunch of eggheads over at Sky and Telescope are debunking the whole darn "brightest moon of the last 150 years" thing. They did lots of calculations and estimations and have big calendars and such that seem to indicate that the moon will be big and bright all right, but that it's really not all that big a deal. There have supposedly been lots of brighter moons in the last 100 years.

I'm not sure what my position is on this. My feeling is that I trust an Old Farmer a lot more than some astronomy goobs at Sky and Telescope. Don't you? Old Farmers usually say things in a lot more colorful way, with lots of sayings like "I reckon" and "as the crow flies" and "Ye can put that in yer pipe and smoke it!" and such. They also have cool wrinkly faces and give you hits off their flasks of rotgut whiskey. Oh, and they have ancient homespun wisdom, which none of your book-larnin' can match.

Astronomy goobs, on the other hand, always have bad breath and scraggly beards and big fishbowl glasses. And they say everything to you real slow and with humiliating examples as if you were a painfully retarded mandrill. Oh: and they never have whiskey. So, I'm going to have to go with the Old Farmer on this one.

I think the S&T folks are just PISSED that they spend all this time encouraging people to get excited about astronomy, and have like elementary school outreach programs where they drag scores of yawning children through shelves and shelves of boring laboratory equipment, and it never works, and people still find astronomy boring, and it's very frustating. But THEN people get all EXCITED about this crazy moon-solstice thing that isn't even really a THING, if you actually know what you're talking about. I mean, it's exactly the kind of situation that makes science guys jump around like they have furious bees in their pants.

But frankly, who gives a fuck? Isn't it GREAT that there are thousands of people who are going to go out and enjoy the moon tonight, brightest-of-the-century or not? You should go out tonight (and tomorrow night), too. Enjoy the moon! Enjoy the night! Dance around like an idiot. We live on a PLANET that goes around the SUN every YEAR! And we have a MOON, too! Isn't that just the COOLEST THING?!? Wow. Beaujolais!

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

burton@pigdog.org


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