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Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
Ancient astronomers of course didn't have to deal with light pollution. And they were motivated
And they didn't have lights to read by after dark (or they were very expensive) and worst of all not computers, smartphones or TVs. Stars were one of only two real amusements after dark (the other could be done outside with one of the people gazing at the sky if the other were particularly untalented).
 

Gibbs505

SERVORUM DOMITOR
Ancient astronomers of course didn't have to deal with light pollution. And they were motivated. (As I recall, the priests at the temple in Jerusalem had to watch for the exact moment of sunset to start feasts like passover.)
Mercury's orbit isn't what one would expect based on Newtonian mechanics. That led to the theory that there was a planet called Vulcan even closer to the sun yet to be discovered, and there were hundreds of searchers and tens of "discoveries". After all, Uranus' eccentricities had led people to Neptune. But a guy named Einstein spoiled the fun in 1915 by predicting the anomaly with his general relativity theory--"close to the sun" means "higher curvature in space" and therefore "precession" in the orbit of Mercury.
Mercury rotates so it always shows the same face to the sun, which means that in craters near the poles in constant shadow water ice apparently exists (at least that's the conclusion from the probes that have gone there). Atmospheres matter when it comes to dispersing heat, and Mercury doesn't really have one (blown away long ago by the solar wind, I guess).
Supposedly, one of the joys of an Amtrak trip across the United States (there are also numerous sorrows with Amtrak, since it uses freight railroad tracks and loses its priority if it runs even a little late, leading to running a whole lot late) is sitting in an observation car at night and watching the stars out on the Plains. Where I live, there is way too much light pollution (and often a lot of clouds). I miss seeing the Milky Way which I used to see quite often years ago. Light pollution has skyrocketed here.
A number of years ago we were staying on a lake and we had the most magical views of the night sky!
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
A number of years ago we were staying on a lake and we had the most magical views of the night sky!
yes, out at sea on a sailing vessel with only the compulsory lights showing, the night sky is astounding,
it's as if you've pulled back a blind and suddenly seen millions of beings out there,
all going about, doing their own things, and we've been completely oblivious to them!
 

Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
yes, out at sea on a sailing vessel with only the compulsory lights showing, the night sky is astounding,
it's as if you've pulled back a blind and suddenly seen millions of beings out there,
all going about, doing their own things, and we've been completely oblivious to them!
You make it most apparent why you are the Poet Laureate here! :icon12:
 

twonines

Tribune
yes, out at sea on a sailing vessel with only the compulsory lights showing, the night sky is astounding,
it's as if you've pulled back a blind and suddenly seen millions of beings out there,
all going about, doing their own things, and we've been completely oblivious to them!
It is a fantastic sight on a clear night without light pollution. The best sightings I have had were in the Egyptian desert and about 20 miles out from Alice Springs in Australia,both absolutely amazing.
 

Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
It is a fantastic sight on a clear night without light pollution. The best sightings I have had were in the Egyptian desert and about 20 miles out from Alice Springs in Australia,both absolutely amazing.
My best sightings were on the island of Samos in Greece and in the Black Rock Desert, north of Reno Nevada, where the Burning Man festival is held annually. A real-life enactment of The Wicker Man.
burningman-effigy.jpgMGN_1280x720_50827P00-EQEGS-860x484.jpg
 

Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
In 1974, Richard P. Feynman gave the commencement address at Caltech University (arguable then and now, the greatest Science school in the world). I fail to understand why Caltech didn't have him give the address each year (or if he himself was unavailable, to have some useless Dean read it for those graduating). Here is a link:
In these strange times of Scientific (?) debate, it is probably the most important thing you can read.

For those under 40 here who never learned to read, is the most important sentence in the address:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

For those who cry, "Trust the Science!" listen to side remark that Feynman makes about what he calls Cargo Cult Science:
We’ve learned from experience that the truth will out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in Cargo Cult Science.
 
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