Appeal successful, post restored

My appeal of a fraudulent removal of a post from Yahoo!Answers Astronomy & Space has been approved, and the post has been restored.  Unfortunately Y!A does not tell me who reported my post as inappropriate.   However, Y!A assures me (with ponderous gravity) that the person who flagged my post has ‘lost influence’.

Yippie skippie. Color me “unimpressed”.

One of the other frequent aswerers there told me that a group of sock-puppets targeted his account one night and reported 6 posts within 45 minutes, causing his account to be disabled.   I’ve now had to restrict access to my Y!A profile so that people can’t simply browse through my answers and flag them.

Once again, the 2012 proponents are showing their true colors.  It’s not ok to disagree with them.  If you do, you will be targeted.

And remember, 2012 is a hoax and “In space,  noone can hear you scheme.

Introducing: The ENC

In honor of the new campaign of censorship attempts by 2012ers on Yahoo!Answers Astronomy & Space,  I’m now forming the ENC, or “Evil NASA Conspiracy”.  This is a blatant rip-off of the “EAC” (We do not exist), but what the heck.

I think our slogan will be “In space, nobody can hear you scheme!”.   Our goals will be simple: the suppression of any evidence of Planet-X/Nibiru.  We should be very successful in this, since the object does not exist.

See?  It’s working already!  I’ll have to work on my funding proposal to NASA.

Observation Log: 20081229 17:30

Oh. My. Lord.

I grabbed my Christmas present from the family, a pair of 8×56 Celestron Skymaster binoculars, and went out specifically to view the conjunction.

Wow.  Just… wow.  I had mostly clear skies, and the seeing wasn’t great due to some high altitude moisture.  Venus had a ring around it, it was so bright, and  I could pick out Jupiter with no problem.  Mercury couldn’t be seen at first except with the binoculars, but after about 20 minutes I could just make it out without them.

With the binocs, even against the skyglow, I could see 2 of the galilean moons.   I could see visible discs on all three planets (well, a half-disk on Venus).

All three of the planets were set against the 5% crescent moon, and the four objects were just beautiful together.  Every time I glanced up, until the moon set over the hills,  the moon and Venus reminded me of a parachute and payload, falling up through the sky.  I think it reminded me of the picture of the Phoenix lander that Phil Plait picked as his top picture of 2008.  That’s the one that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped with the HIRISE camera while Phoenix was on the way down.

If you missed it tonight, you have two more chances.  On Tuesday December 30, the moon will be slightly larger and higher in the sky, closer to Venus.  On Wednesday December 31, the moon will be just above Venus, and Jupiter and Mercury will be about 1.3 degrees apart.   This Week’s Sky at a Glance has some graphics of what you should be looking for.

UPDATE: Phil Plait also has an entry on his blog about the conjunction.

UPDATE 2: Tavi Greiner has photos here, here and here.

Astronomy burger

So, have you seen these commercials yet?  The ones for the Burger King Steakhouse Burger?  I’ve caught three of them so far, and they are all similarly annoying, but the last one ticks me off.  I’m quoting these from memory, so these are probably not exact.

The first one I saw went something like this:  Two men are sitting in a lunchroom, eating their BK Steakhouse burgers.  A woman enters the scene, and asks one man “What did you do to earn that Steakhouse burger?”  He replies “I gave half my paycheck to charity.”   She nods happily, and then asks the second man “And what did you do?”.  The second man replies “I was just hungry.”  The woman angrily slaps the second man and calls him an arrogant and selfish jerk.  The tagline is “The steakhouse burger is so special, people will think you’re special too”.

I saw another variation a few days ago, which I frankly can’t remember.  However, last night I saw this one:

Two men are sitting at a table in a room lined with rack-mounted electronics.  On the table is a small (6- or 8-inch) Newtonian telescope.  Obviously this is *supposed* to be an observatory in a university setting.   A third man enters the scene and asks “What did you do to earn that Steakhouse Burger”.  The first man replies “I found a moon around Regulus 359, in the Crab Nebula.  It may support life”.   The third man asks the second “And you?”.  The second man replies “I helped”.  The third man angrily replies “You either *find* a new star, or you *don’t* you arrogant <bleep>”.

Of course, the point is supposed to be that these burgers are really good, and that people will expect you to have done something special to earn them.  However, this commercial grates on my nerves because of the obvious errors, so the producers and directors of this commercial get no BK Steakhouse Burger!

First of all, Regulus is a star, not a constellation.  There is no star ‘Regulus 359’.   Regulus is a particular star, the brightest star in Leo. It is a triple star system, so there is a Regulus A, B and C, but no ‘Regulus 359’.

The star ‘Wolf 359’ is in Leo, which may be where the commercial got ‘Regulus 359’.  Wolf 359 is a small, dim, red dwarf star, only about 7.8 ly away.  Regulus A is about 77.5 ly away, and is a type B star, young, hot, and also spinning very rapidly.

The ‘Crab Nebula’ is not anywhere near Leo, it’s in Taurus.   It’s also a supernova remnant, so anything “in the Crab Nebula” would be toast.

So, let’s assume that ‘Regulus 359’ is supposed to be a star, then what they discovered would be a ‘planet’, not a ‘moon’.   As far as I know, we’ve only been able to discover some extrasolar planets by the wiggle they put into their host star.   There has been some spectroscopic analysis of the reflected light from some planets, but no direct imaging.   I don’t see how we could discover a ‘moon’ at this point (but I could be wrong).

Is that supposed to be the telescope that they used?  It looks like a commercial 8-inch newt.   It would be really cool if we could image extrasolar planets from that scope, but not very damn likely.

And lastly, they can’t keep their story straight for the whole 30 seconds.  Guy #1 says ‘moon’ and guy #3 says ‘star’.  Which is it?

All in all, this commercial belongs on Phil Plait’s site as an example of bad astronomy in the media.    Sorry guys, you had an opportunity to earn that BK Steakhouse Burger, but now I have to take them away.