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Chap 4: Bad Astronomy Mainly inspired by the book “Bad Astronomy”

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1 Chap 4: Bad Astronomy Mainly inspired by the book “Bad Astronomy”

2 Contents 4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy 4.2 Seasons 4.3 Big Moon illusion

3 4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy
Astrology (占星術) and Astronomy (天文學) are two different subjects. Astronomy: a scientific study of all phenomena in the universe Astrology: a study of the relationship between a man’s fate and the constellations, scientists used to regard it as a pseudo-science (偽科學). Physics Department offers astronomy courses but no Astrology course!

4 4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy
A horoscope 天宮圖 shows the locations of the planets, the sun and the moon among the zodiacal signs in the zodiac 黃道帶 at the moment of a person’s birth. A person’s personality, life history and fate are revealed in his or her horoscope.

5 The zodiacal signs are the 12 constellations in the zodiac
The zodiacal signs are the 12 constellations in the zodiac. Each constellation occupies one of the 12 houses in the zodiac (黃道十二宮). Aries: Mar April 19 Libra: Sept Oct. 23 Taurus: April 20 - May 20 Scorpio: Oct Nov. 21 Sagittarius: Nov Dec. 21 Gemini: May 21 - June 21 Capricorn: Dec Jan. 19 Cancer: June 22 - July 22 Aquarius: Jan Feb. 18 Leo: July 23 - Aug. 22 Virgo: Aug Sept. 22 Pisces: Feb Mar. 20

6 4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy
zodiac (黄道帶) is in fact the path of the sun on the celestial sphere (天球) due to the orbital motion of Earth We shall answer What is the celestial sphere? What happens as a consequence of Earth’s orbital motion? What can be found on the zodiac? What are constellations?

7 Q.1 What is the celestial sphere?
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.1 What is the celestial sphere? Objects very far away from us appear to be of equal distance from us

8 Q.1 What is the celestial sphere?
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.1 What is the celestial sphere? Model of the sky Because stars are extremely far away Appear to be of the same distance from us stars seem to be attached on a huge sphere – celestial sphere (天球) We are at the center of the sphere, geocentric?! Space Museum:

9 Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion Earth’ axis 23.5 from perpendicular, so the earth’s equator (celestial) 23.5 with its orbital plane

10 Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion On the celestial sphere, ecliptic makes an angle of 23.5o with celestial equator The Sun appears to move along ecliptic 黃道 (yearly motion of Sun’s path).

11 Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion SunMotion.mpg

12 Nearly linear arrangement of Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury (from top to bottom) on March 3, 1999 demonstrates that the planets lie close to the ecliptic.

13 Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion Pluto was expulsed from the category of planets in There are eight planets in our solar system. Planets orbits lie in nearly the same plane as the earths, except Mercury (7)

14 Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.2 consequence of Earth’s orbital motion move in zodiac (黃道帶): a band of width 18 centered on ecliptic.

15 Q.3 What can be found on the zodiac?
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.3 What can be found on the zodiac? The ecliptic passes through 13 constellations (12 constellations in astrology). These are the constellations that can be found on the zodiac.

16 Q.3 What can be found on the zodiac?
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.3 What can be found on the zodiac? At night, we can only see constellations at the opposite side of the sun, e.g., in January, we can see Gemini (雙子座) but not Sagittarius (人馬座)

17

18 Q.4 What are constellations?
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Q.4 What are constellations? Constellations: visual groupings of stars Totally 88 today, some added in modern days, e.g., Telescopium 望遠鏡座. Names of stars in a constellation: brightest star , then  etc., e.g. Sirius 天狼星 known as  Canis Major 大犬座 Usually no correlation among the stars in the same constellations

19 Why would we say astrology is a pseudo-science?
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Why would we say astrology is a pseudo-science? Astrology cannot make falsifiable predictions. The predictions are so vague (含糊) that we cannot say they are wrong! Here are some highlights of an online astrological predictions You are more of a poet than a rational scientist, for your mind does not function in a strictly logical, linear fashion. My response: Whose mind can function in a STRICTLY logical, linear fashion? Who can always be unaffected by his own emotions?

20 4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy
Translating your thoughts and impressions into concrete, everyday language may be difficult for you at times and consequently you may appear less intelligent or at least less quick-witted and verbal than others. My response: Human language is never a perfect tool for expression. Everybody in the world faces the same problem. You can be somewhat absent-minded and you become so immersed in your own thoughts that you overlook things in your immediate, tangible environment. My response: Can be absent-minded? Of course I can be, and everyone can be. The problem is: When will I be absent-minded and how? I indeed can never falsify this astrological prediction.

21 Why would we say astrology is a pseudo-science?
4.1 Astrology vs. Astronomy Why would we say astrology is a pseudo-science? Astrology cannot explain how the celestial objects and the events on Earth are related. Sometimes, astrologers are able to give some seemingly scientific arguments to justify their predictions. Here are two examples: Gravity Principle of correspondence

22 A. Gravity In some ways, the forces between the Planets involved in Astrology can be simplified into one word: gravity. The Sun has the greatest gravity and the strongest effect in Astrology, followed by the Moon, the Earth's satellite. The other Planets are not truly satellites of the Earth, but nevertheless, they have gravity and so affect the Earth. The Sun controls the Earth's motion and the Moon controls its tides, but the other Planets have their own effects on the Earth -- and on the people who live on Earth. Sometimes their influences can be so strong that they outweigh the Sun's energy! My response: The Earth’s gravitational force acting upon us is much stronger than that acted by the sun and planets. Even the nurse or doctor standing near me during by birth had stronger gravitational force on me than the planets.

23 B. Principle of correspondence
Mars: The planet of passion (激情之星) Mars is the action Planet of the Zodiac. The 'Red Planet,' after all, should be pretty fiery, and Mars does not disappoint. Energy, passion, drive and determination are all right up Mars's alley. This Planet commands you (and yes, Mars does rule the military) to stand up, be noticed and get things done -- sitting on the sidelines belongs somewhere else in the heavens. Simply put, Mars speaks to the power and confident expression of the individual. My response: Mars is red because of the iron oxide dust in its atmosphere. We cannot find any relation between the iron oxide dust on Mars and passion, drive and determination.

24 B. Principle of correspondence
Moon: Ruler of the emotions As the ruler of the tides, it is fitting that the Moon should be the ruler of our emotions. Still waters run deep? Making waves? A wellspring of emotion? Yes, our emotions have long been portrayed in terms of the sea: fluid, momentous, churning from within. Mood swings, instinct, how we feel about things and how our feelings affect others are all influenced by the Moon. Whereas the Sun gives us our spirit, it's the Moon which gives us our soul. My response: The moon causes tides. The working principle is basically the principle of universal gravitation. That our emotions are like water is just an analogue, which does not rely on any physical principle. We cannot say that the moon can affect emotions just because of an analogue.

25 This explanation is wrong!
4.2 Seasons Since the orbital of Earth is elliptical, Earth is sometimes nearer to the sun, sometimes farther. When Earth is near to the sun, it is summer. When Earth is farther from the sun, it is winter. This explanation is wrong!

26 So what is the true reason?
4.2 Seasons Why wrong? If the assertion is correct, the whole Earth should be in summer when it is near the sun. This cannot explain why it is winter in Australia while it is summer in the Northern hemisphere. From detailed measurements, it is known that it is summer in the Northern hemisphere when Earth is far from the sun. So what is the true reason?

27 Remember: Earth’ axis 23.5 from perpendicular
4.2 Seasons Remember: Earth’ axis 23.5 from perpendicular

28 4.2 Seasons Vernal equinox (春分) 21/3: Sun crosses the celestial equator moving northward Summer solstice (夏至) 22/6: Sun is farthest North, and makes an angle of 23.5 northwards Autumnal equinox (秋分) 23/9: Sun crosses the celestial equator moving southward Winter solstice (冬至) 22/12: Sun is farthest South, and makes an angle of 23.5 southwards

29 4.2 Seasons the Sun at Summer solstice (夏至)
Sun shines nearly overhead in Northern hemisphere sunlight not spread very much, hence very hot in June in Northern hemisphere

30 4.2 Seasons the Sun at Winter solstice (冬至)
Sunlight strikes the ground at a steepest angle, receives less energy per unit area in Northern hemisphere sunlight spread very much, hence cold in December

31 Why does it have a longer daytime in summer?
4.2 Seasons Why does it have a longer daytime in summer?

32 4.2 Seasons the Sun at Summer solstice (夏至)
Sunlight from north of equatorial plane at 23.5 Longest daytime in North hemisphere; Shortest daytime in South hemisphere

33 4.2 Seasons the Sun at Winter solstice (冬至)
Sunlight from south of equatorial plane at 23.5 Shortest daytime in North hemisphere; Longest daytime in South hemisphere

34 4.2 Seasons Question: What is the daytime at equator when the Sun travels to summer or winter solstice, vernal or autumnal equinox? No matter where the Sun is, there is 12 hrs daytime and 12 hrs nighttime at equator

35 4.3 Big Moon illusion It has long been found that the moon looks bigger when it rises or sets. Tests indicate that the Moon appears about 2 or 3 times larger when on the horizon versus overhead.

36 4.3 Big Moon illusion Background
The effect has been known for thousands of years. Aristotle wrote of it in about 350 B.C. A description was found a clay tablet from the royal library of Nineveh that was written more than 300 years earlier than that date.

37 3 common wrong explanations:
4.3 Big Moon illusion 3 common wrong explanations: The moon is physically nearer to the viewer on the horizon, making it look bigger. Earth’s atmosphere acts like a lens, magnifying the disk of the Moon. When we view the horizon Moon we mentally compare it to objects like trees and houses on the horizon, making it look bigger.

38 The moon is bigger when on the horizon
The radius of the moon’s orbit is about 380,000 km. Earth’s radius is about 6,400 km. The overhead Moon is physically nearer than when on the horizon by 6,400/380,000  2%. Therefore the overhead Moon should appear 2% larger.

39 The atmosphere acts like a lens
Light rays from different parts of the Moon strike at the atmosphere at different angles. Some bend less and some bend more. As a result, the atmosphere only flattens the moon instead of making it larger.

40 Wave nature of light: Refraction
See tricks of light

41 Light ray bends at the interface of two media
Refraction of light Light ray bends at the interface of two media

42 Refraction of light due to the fact that light speed changes as it enters into another medium.

43 The atmosphere acts like a lens
The image seems squeezed!

44 We mentally compare it to objects like trees and houses on the horizon,
The illusion persists when the horizon is clear, as when the Moon is viewed from ships at sea or out airplane windows. If we position ourselves so that we can see the overhead Moon between tall buildings, it does not look larger.

45 Why do we perceive it bigger at horizon?
4.3 Big Moon illusion A simple measurement by finger: Wherever the Moon is, the moon always subtends about 0.5o. The angle never becomes 2 or 3 times larger. That means, the Moon is actually the same size. This is indeed an illusion! Why do we perceive it bigger at horizon?

46 4.3 Big Moon illusion In fact, no one knows exactly why it happens
There are two factors, which are BELIEVED to be most important: how we judge the size of distant objects how we perceive the shape of the sky

47 Judgment of the size of distant objects
4.3 Big Moon illusion Judgment of the size of distant objects The apparent size of an object is inversely proportional to its distance, e.g., someone standing 5 m away might look to be 30 cm tall, but someone twice as far away would look only 15 cm tall. You certainly don’t think the farther one is half the height of the nearer one, but you perceive them to be the same size. This effect is called “size constancy”.

48 A B C D E Which pole is longer? Almost the same, agree?

49 Box 4.1 Size constancy (大小恆常性)
Size constancy is in fact a survival factor. If we perceive a predator far away as being smaller, the sense of depth perception would have been messed-up, and we would be caught up easily! However, we can be fooled by size constancy sometimes. See the following examples.

50 Box 4.1 Size constancy (大小恆常性)
Which line is longer?

51 Box 4.1 Size constancy (大小恆常性)
Which one is taller?

52 Is that man getting bigger?
Box 4.1 Size constancy (大小恆常性) Funny! 天龍座 a Is that man getting bigger?

53 Box 4.1 Size constancy (大小恆常性)
This is called Ponzo Illusion (龐諾錯覺): noticed by Mario Ponzo in 1913 Our brains interpret converging lines to be parallel, like railroad tracks Where the lines converge is in distance, the top line is farther away. Hence, our brain perceives the top line as longer since it is as long as the bottom line.

54 Box 4.1 Size constancy (大小恆常性)
Our brains interpret converging lines to be parallel, like railroad tracks.

55 4.3 Big Moon illusion The shape of the sky
What is the shape of the sky? A hemispherical surface? This may be only partially correct: it is a surface, but it is not a hemispherical surface.

56 4.3 Big Moon illusion The shape of the sky
We perceive it as an inverted soup bowl. the sky we perceive. celestial sphere, use it to define coordinates of stars, etc. In other words, the horizon seems to be farther away than the zenith.

57 4.3 Big Moon illusion The shape of the sky How can we test it?
Ask somebody to point towards where he thinks it is halfway between the horizon and the zenith. Theoretically, it should be 45o up from the horizon. Many people point at an angle of ~30o up from the horizon.

58 4.3 Big Moon illusion The shape of the sky
This shows that the perceived sky is flattened compared with a hemisphere. If you don’t believe, check it today!

59 Explanation of the big Moon illusion
The Moon has almost the same physical size on the horizon as it is overhead. The shape of the sky makes the brain perceive the Moon as being farther away on the horizon than when it’s overhead. The Ponzo Illusion shows that when you have two objects has the same physical size but at different distances, the brain interprets the more distant object as being bigger. Hence, when the Moon on the horizon, the brain interprets it as being bigger.

60 Experiment to check the bowl-shaped sky
4.3 Big Moon illusion Experiment to check the bowl-shaped sky Experiment: By Lloyd Kaufman, Long Island University psychologist, and James Kaufman (Lloyd’s son), IBM’s Almaden research Center Two images of the Moon are projected on the sky One is fixed like the real Moon, whereas the another is adjustable in size

61 Experiment to check the bowl-shaped sky
4.3 Big Moon illusion Experiment to check the bowl-shaped sky another was adjusted until it looked like being halfway between the real moon and the subject one fixed like the real moon Result: every subject placed the halfway point of the horizon Moon an average of 4 times farther away than the halfway point of the elevated Moon. Implication: The human brain perceives the sky as inverted-bowl shaped.

62 4.3 Big Moon illusion I don’t believe!
when you ask someone, “Which do you think is closer, the big horizon Moon or the smaller zenith Moon?” the horizon Moon looks closer. seems contradicting the Ponzo Illusion explanation.

63 4.3 Big Moon illusion However, the Ponzo Illusion is that the farther-away object is bigger, not that the bigger object is farther away. See the difference: In the Ponzo Illusion the brain first unconsciously establishes distances and then interprets size; When you ask people which Moon is closer, they are first looking at size, and then consciously interpreting distance. These are two different processes, and may not be undertaken by the same part of the brain.


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