Did NASA change the zodiac? – Astronomy misconceptions this week

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This week we look at a couple of astronomy blunders that have been in the news.

Was Cosmopolitan magazine right to start getting worried that NASA had changed the zodiac? And why was UKIP MP Douglas Carswell confused about which celestial body causes the tides?

For extra snippets of astro news between episodes like my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JosieAPeters or follow me on Twitter https://www.twitter.com/josieapeters

Links:
The ridiculous Cosmo article (it’s full of adverts so may be difficult to load, I struggled) – http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/entertainment/news/a45943/star-sign-horoscope-change-2016/
The original NASA page on precession – http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/starfinder2/en/
A news article on Douglas Carswell’s mistake – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/douglas-carswell-tides-ukip-experts-science-mp-a7318461.html

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Image credits:
Babylonian map – http://www.crystalinks.com/babylon.html
Solar eclipse – National Geographic http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/03/160309-2016-solar-eclipse-pictures-science/
Spinning top – http://toystoddle.com/spinning-tops/turnip-spinning-top/
Medieval king – https://sites.google.com/a/student.slcusd.org/medieval-mythbusters-4th-period-history/medieval-society
Astrology/zodiac symbols – http://www.theartofancientwisdom.com/astrology/
Animation of tidal forces – ESA/Hubble
The Moon – NASA

Comments

Nillie says:

NASA don't even make any of the decisions about where the boundaries between constellations are! Those are determined by the International Astronomical Union as a way of dividing the sky into distinct regions, and the Zodiac is just the constellations that were on the ecliptic 3000 years ago.

Mark Holm says:

I think this video needs reworking. I caught three fairly serious errors. 1. Both your statements and your animation give the impression that the Moon circles the Earth daily. With respect to tides, one needs to emphasize the Earth's rotation. 2. Your statements give short shrift to the Sun's tidal effect. It is real. If we had no Moon, we would still experience, smaller, tides due to the Sun. Depending on the relative positions of the Sun, Moon and Earth, chiefly influenced by the Moon's orbit, the lunar and solar tidal effects can either add or subtract from each other. 3. Your mention of eclipses neither aids understanding of the effect, nor paints an accurate picture of reality. Variation of tides, due to interacting lunar and solar influences, happens whether or not eclipses also happen. Spring tides occur when the Moon is is in either the perisolar or aposolar position. Solar eclipses, as seen from Earth, occur only when the Moon is perisolar. Lunar eclipses occur only when the Moon is aposolar.

Mark Holm says:

Mr or Ms UKIP is clearly an ignoramus. We have the same phenomenon of the glorification of ignorance here is the USA. It is very distressing to educated people.

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