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Regarding “Truth” September 16, 2009

Posted by Treehopper in astronomy, catholic, opinion.
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Who’s Truth Is It Anyway?

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m neither a scientist nor a theology scholar.  I do, however, have my feet solidly in both camps as a serious student of both astronomy and Catholic Christian theology.  This often leads to a precarious balancing act, especially when in full view of the prevailing academic atheism that has been so popular in our institutions of higher learning for the past several generations.  So to echo Pilate’s rather indelicate question, just what is truth?  Does one side or the other have an exclusive claim to truth?  Does a person of faith today have to travel incognito with regard to his religious beliefs or be prepared to take one on the chin by his irreligious peers?

Science or Faith?

Science or Faith?

At the very end of the August 2009 issue of Sky & Telescope in the “Focal Point” editorial article (page 86), a trio of astronomers from the University of Texas at Austin collectively penned an opinion piece titled, “Keeping Science Safe.”  These authors use such charged terms as “insidious” to describe the efforts of so-called “Intelligent Design” proponents, and referred to their worldview as “antiquated” and “antiscientific.”  To these astronomers and their “worldview”, one must flash their skeptic’s credentials at the door before being admitted to the halls of “true science.”  The irony here is that while accusing the opposing camp of running an agenda, their own pre-conceptions are laid bare.  To wit, there is no room in modern academia for faith in a Creator.

Such a notion runs face-on into the historical record of such luminaries in the field of astronomy such as Copernicus, Galileo, Brahe, Kepler, Newton, et al.  Go beyond astronomy into other fields, and you’ll find a small army of equally notable names; all whose contribution to science is undisputed, and all of whom expressed a religious faith.  One need not argue too vehemently that the scientific method itself owes a great deal of its foundations to men whose consciences were formed by fervent faith in God.



Jupiter Without Moons September 2, 2009

Posted by Treehopper in astronomy, observation.
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(Originally posted by Tony Flanders on the Sky & Telescope Observing Highlights section.)

On the night of September 2-3, 2009, a remarkable celestial event will take place. From 4:43 to 6:29 Universal Time on the 3rd (which is 12:43 to 2:29 a.m. EDT on the 3rd, or 9:43 to 11:29 p.m PDT on the 2nd), a casual look at Jupiter through a telescope will show no moons at all. It’s quite common for one of the four Galilean moons be hidden, and it’s not rare to see only two moons. But only a few times in a century do all four moons hide simultaneously behind or in front of Jupiter.

As the diagram shows, Callisto and Io will be either behind Jupiter or eclipsed by Jupiter’s shadow, rendering them completely invisible to any telescope. But Europe and Ganymede will be in front of the planet, where their disks should (at least in theory) be visible at high magnification if the atmosphere is very steady. And for most of that time, one or both of the moons’ shadows will also fall on Jupiter. The moons themselves are hard to see because they’re similar in color and brightness to Jupiter. But the shadows are pitch black, so they stand out relatively well.

To enjoy the event to the fullest, you should try to watch the moons’ disappearances and reappearances. Most of the 11-hour sequence should be visible from the American East Coast, and much of it is visible across all of the Americas and in Europe.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
23:28 UT, Callisto enters occultation behind Jupiter.

Thursday, September 3, 2009
03:44 UT, Io enters occultation behind Jupiter.
04:00 UT, Europa begins transit of Jupiter.
04:46 UT, Ganymede begins transit of Jupiter.
04:56 UT, Europa’s shadow begins to cross Jupiter.
06:32 UT, Io exits eclipse by Jupiter’s shadow.
06:46 UT, Ganymede’s shadow begins to cross Jupiter.
06:50 UT, Europa ends transit of Jupiter.
07:50 UT, Europa’s shadow leaves Jupiter’s disk.
08:24 UT, Ganymede ends transit of Jupiter.
08:44 UT, Callisto exits eclipse by Jupiter’s shadow.
10:24 UT, Ganymede’s shadow leaves Jupiter’s disk.