What were the challenges for the ancients to observe the orbit of the Moon (instead of Mars)?

What were the challenges for the ancients to observe the orbit of the Moon (instead of Mars)?

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Astrophysics can be said to have been founded by Johannes Kepler around the year 1600. He based his break-through science on data of the position of Mars in the sky and disproved the ancient ideas about circular orbits and epicycles.

But why wasn't this done far earlier, by using observations of the Moon? Wasn't it pretty obvious to a careful astrologer a thousand years ago, that the Moon does not have a circular orbit and does not describe epi-cycles? It is the easiest celestial object to observe, visible both night and day. Moon calendars may have been designed tens of thousands of years ago, there's no lack of observational data. Kepler instead used a few oppositions of Mars which take place only once every two+ years. Since the Moon is the one object which does orbit Earth, in a geocentric world view it should've been the perfect test of circular and epi-cyclical theories about its orbit. Its nearness causes a daily parallax between moonrise and moonset, but that wouldn't be beyond a genius like Kepler or many mathematical astrologers before him.

What made the orbit of the Moon difficult for the ancients to understand?

Wasn't it pretty obvious to a careful astrologer a thousand years ago, that the Moon does not have a circular orbit and does not describe epi-cycles?

The ancient Greek model of the motion of planetary bodies remained unchallenged for almost two millennia, so obviously not.

Hipparchus' model did a fairly good job dealing with the elliptical motion of the Moon; it did even better with the planets. The Moon's motion is tough to model because of perturbations by the Sun, Venus, and Jupiter. Ptolemy discovered what would eventually be called evection, the largest of the perturbations caused by the Sun. There was one problem with Ptolemy's model: It had the Moon swinging in and out by a huge amount. If Ptolemy's model was correct, we would see the Moon changing in diameter by a factor of two over the course of a bit over half an orbit. Copernicus much later came up with a scheme that fixed this problem and still relied on those old concepts of deferents, equants, epicycles, etc.

While Newton pointed the way to describing the Moon's orbit, it wouldn't be until 200 years after Newton's death that a decent (one that matches observations) model of the Moon's orbit was developed.

Ancient and Medieval Astronomy

Edward Worth’s collection holds two works on ancient astronomy: Aratus Solensis’s Aratou Soleōs Phainomena kai Diosēmeia : Theōnos scholia. Leontiou Mēchanikou Peri arateias sphairas (Paris, 1559) and Denis Petau’s Uranologion (Paris 1630), a large folio compilatory volume of works by ancient authors such as Hipparchus, Ptolemy and Geminus.

Aratus Solensis, ca. 315 BC – 240 BC, was a Greek poet rather than an astronomer. Ordered by his patron, King Antigonus Gonatus of Macedonia, to immortalise the astronomical work of Eudoxus of Cnidus, ca. 408-355 BC, Aratus composed his Phaenomena. The poem is divided into three parts, the most important being his poetical description of the constellations, which forms the first section followed by a discussion of the rising and setting of the constellations in the second part. This illustration of the constellation is taken from the Parisian 1559 edition by Guillaume Morel but Worth had more than one edition of this work: a 1540 Parisian edition by Joachim Périon and the text was included in a number of compilatory editions of ancient Greek authors in this collection.

Aratus Solensis, Aratou Soleōs Phainomena kai Diosēmeia (Paris, 1559), foldout plate.

Though purportedly based on the work of Eudoxus, the poem includes clues which indicate that its source was a much older mapping of the stars, one which pre-dated by far Eudoxus’s era. The fact that Ptolemy uses similar names for the constellations allows a comparison between the Ptolemaic map of the sky and the implied poetical one of Aratus. Zhitomirsky’s close examination of the poem (1999), in particular Aratus’s more concrete comments on the position of certain constellations on the celestial equator, suggests that it is based on a primary source, probably oral in nature, which originated sometime around the beginning of 2000 BC. The unknown astronomers were evidently based far to the north, at the latitude of 36 o N, rather than near the well-known civilizations of ancient Egypt and Sumeria.

As the title page demonstrates, Denis Petau’s Uranologion: sive, Systema variorum authorum qui de sphæra, ac sideribus, eorumque motibus græcè commentati sunt omnia vel græcè ac latinè nunc primùm edita, vel antè non edita cura & studio Dionysii Petavii Aurelianensis accesserunt variarum dissertationum libri octo, ad authores illos intelligendos imprimis utiles, eodem authore (Paris, 1630) brings together works by famous ancient astronomers such as Hipparchus, c. 190 BC – c. 120 BC, Geminus, 1st century BC, and Ptolemy 90 – 168 AD.

Denis Petau, Uranologion (Paris, 1630), title page.

Hipparchus is perhaps best known today for his explanation of the precession of the equinoxes. By calculating the longitude of Spica against previously recorded observations of astronomers such as Timocharis and Aristullus, Hipparchus was able to prove that Spica’s longitude had increased by nearly two degrees. He argued that this motion was a slight progression of the stars eastward with regard to the ecliptic and not the retrogression of the equinoctial points. Ironically, though Hipparchus is now regarded as the most influential ancient astronomer for his works on such topics as the orbit of the Moon, solar and lunar eclipses, his lost star catalogue and his discussions of the size and distances of the Sun and Moon (which are known to us from references in other ancient authors), the only text of his to survive is his ‘Commentary on the Phaenomena of Eudoxus and Aratus’. As the title page of Petau’s Uranologion makes clear, Aratus’s Phaenomena was the focus of not only Hipparchus’s text but also that of Geminus of Rhodes.

Both Geminus and Ptolemy owed much to the observatory work of Hipparchus. Geminus produced a textbook introduction to astronomy, the Isagoge, which was heavily based on Hipparchan findings and so too was Claudius Ptolemy’s seminal work, the Almagest, a far more complex and ultimately more influential work. Much of the lost star catalogue of Hipparchus can be pieced together by studying the Almagest which relied heavily on Hipparchus’s observations. As Ohruhlik (1978) points out, of 28 observations of solstices and equinoxes in Book III of the Almagest, 24 were from Hipparchus with only 4 mentioned by Ptolemy as being his own.

Johannes Hevelius, Selenographia, p. 161 (Diagram of Ptolemaic system)

In the Almagest Ptolemy examined the position of planets but rarely discussed the issue of planetary distances (a topic he reserved for his Planetary Hypotheses). As we see here, Ptolemy’s scheme is geocentric, the earth being solidly at the centre of the universe (for at this stage the solar system was regarded as the entire universe). Ascending from the earth the order was as follows: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and fixed stars. Placing the Sun was slightly more difficult: as Ptolemy states in his Planetary Hypotheses, no known transit of the Sun by the five planets had been observed – data which would have proved their position below the Sun. Relying on a nesting hypothesis of planets, Ptolemy concluded that the Sun must come between Venus and Mars. The issue of the order of the planets, particularly the ‘inferior planets’ of Mercury and Venus, continued to be a vexed question, with some medieval commentators suggesting that both Mercury and Venus lay beneath the sun, others that they were located above the Sun, and a third cohort suggesting that Mercury was beneath and Venus was above the Sun. A tendency to conflate sunspots as transits of Mercury and Venus ensured that the position of the Sun remained un-assailed.

Perhaps the most important reason why Ptolemy’s astronomical (and indeed his astrological) works remained so dominant throughout the Middle Ages was because of their superficially symbiotic relationship with Aristotelian physics. In a sense Ptolemy provided mathematical explanations for Aristotle’s cosmology, the latter divided throughout Aristotle’s De Caelo, Physica, Metaphysica and Meteorologia. And they certainly agreed on a number of basic points:

  • The solidity of the planetary orbs – each planet was carried around by a sphere or orb in which it was embedded. Within this sphere were a complex nested set of sub-spheres which helped explain planetary motions.
  • The seven planetary orbs were surrounded by an eighth sphere, that of the fixed stars.
  • The four elements of earth, air, fire and water comprised the terrestrial sphere and were by their nature subject to change unlike the fifth element, the ether in the celestial zone, located beyond the Moon. In this schema only in the sub-lunary realm could change take place.
  • But there were tensions between the two views, tensions which had been apparent in the Middle Ages: Aristotle and Ptolemy differed on the number of sub-spheres: Aristotle suggesting 55, Ptolemy far fewer (the lowest figure the latter gives is 29). This was as nothing to a more serious divergence: Aristotle argued that the orbs on which planets moved were all concentric, whereas Ptolemy’s geometric model had introduced a complex system of eccentric circles and epicyclic movements which were, by their nature, not concentric.

Medieval commentators sought to marry the two systems together by promulgating what Grant (1996) calls the ‘Three orb compromise’: only the outer orb, the ‘orbis totalis’ was concentric – allowing inner or ‘partial’ orbs to accommodate Ptolemy’s mathematical models. Medieval writers were not afraid to augment the corpus and added further spheres beyond that of the fixed stars: a ninth ‘crystalline’ sphere, a tenth sphere of the ‘primum mobile’, and the eleventh sphere of the empyrean heaven.

Despite the fact that the Almagest had been translated from Arabic into Latin by Gerard of Cremona in 1175 and subsequently appears on several curriculum lists for medieval universities (for example Oxford in 1431), it was clear that these curricular injunctions were more aspirational than practical, for the Almagest, with its complicated series of eccentric and epicyclic circles was far too complex to serve as a textbook for students at medieval universities. Astronomy, as part of the quadrivium, was studied as part of the B.A. degree and the youthful age of the students, coupled with the fact that many of them would never before have studied the subject, called for a simple introductory text. This was provided by Johannes de Sacrobosco, a thirteenth-century professor at the University of Paris.

Johannes de Sacrobosco

All that is known of Sacrobosco, d. c. 1236, is that he taught at the University of Paris in the thirteenth century. He may have been of either English, Irish or Scottish birth – certainly the appellation ‘Sacrobosco’ or ‘Holywood’ can be found in all three countries – but most authors have followed Robertus Anglicus in deeming him an Englishman. We don’t know when he was born or when he died – save that he was evidently considered to be of importance to the University of Paris since his tomb was placed in the monastery of Saint-Mathurin.

Sacrobosco’s 16 page work on the Sphere proved to be one of the most long-lived textbooks ever written. It survives in hundreds of manuscripts all across Europe and was the first astronomical work to be printed (in Ferrara in 1472). A host of editions followed, including 35 Venetian editions alone, and in the period 1501 to 1600 there were at least two hundred separate editions throughout Europe. It is for this reason that Lynn Thorndike’s (1949) states that it was ‘the clearest, most elementary and most used textbook in astronomy and cosmography from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century.’

It was divided into four chapters: the first concentrates on the concept of sphericity of heavenly bodies, their circular motion and the stationary nature of the earth at the centre of the universe Chapter two investigates the geometrical underpinning of the cosmology: the ecliptic, the equatorial poles and the tropics the third chapter explores the movement of some heavenly bodies and in particular the movement of the sun along the ecliptic and the final chapter examines solar and lunar eclipses – following a whistle-stop tour of Ptolemaic astronomy. Sacrobosco was not trying to produce a monograph on astronomy but a textbook which could serve as a short and understandable introduction to more complex texts. It was a work pedagogical in intent and owed its continuing success not to any originality of thought but to its concise and clear nature. Like the Almagest it said little about planetary motion, a deficiency addressed by an unknown author who produced a Theorica Planetarum which, along with the De Sphaera of Sacrobosco, formed the corpus astronomicum of the later Middle Ages.

Worth had three copies of sixteenth-century commentaries on Sacrobosco’s De Sphaera: one by Theodor Graminaeus and two separate editions by the renowned Jesuit mathematician and most famous commentator of Sacrobosco in the early modern period: Christopher Clavius.

Theodor Graminaeus,
Uberior enarratio eorum quae a Ioanne de Sacro Bosco proponuntur
(Cologne, 1567), title page.

Theodor Graminaeus was a publisher based in Cologne who produced works concerned with map-making and astronomy. In 1567 he produced this octavo edition of Uberior enarratio eorum quae a Ioanne de Sacro Bosco proponuntur, ita vt adiecta difficilioribus locis commentarij vicem supplere possit… (Cologne, 1567), and continued his astronomical publishing two years later by publishing a Cologne edition of Guillaume Morel’s Parisian 1569 edition of Aratus Solensis’s Phaenomena. We can see that Sacrobosco’s 16 page text had expanded considerably since its genesis sometime in the 1230s. Graminaeus’s commentary also added a host of astronomical illustrations, including depictions of the shadow of the Sun of the Earth and the moon Moon fully eclipsing the Sun as seen from the Earth. Graminaeus’s octavo edition comes thirty-six years after the initial octavo edition, produced by the University of Wittenberg to cater for their student market. The format itself shows that this was a work that would be sold to a range of different book-buyers.

Theodor Graminaeus,
Uberior enarratio eorum quae a
Ioanne de Sacro Bosco proponuntur
(Cologne, 1567), p. 273
(Depicting the shadow of the sun on the earth).
Theodor Graminaeus,
Uberior enarratio eorum quae a
Ioanne de Sacro Bosco proponuntur

(Cologne, 1567), p. 277 (
Depicting how the Moon can fully
eclipse the Sun when viewed from earth)

While little is known about Theodor Graminaeus, Christopher Clavius, 1538-1612, was one of the jewels in the Jesuit mathematical crown of the sixteenth century. One of the founders of the Collegio Romano, Clavius’s influence spread throughout the sphere of Jesuit influence. As Feingold (2003) and others have emphasised, Jesuit mathematicians were at the cutting edge of mathematical research. Clavius may have been best known for his seminal works in mathematics but his commentary on Sacrobosco’s sphere was the most comprehensive ever written, running to over 800 pages. First published at Rome in 1570 it ran to more than sixteen printings between 1570 and 1618. Worth’s copy on display here was a 1608 Geneva printing of the 1581 Roman edition which had been substantially augmented by Clavius to take into account the new astronomical challenges facing the Ptolemaic astronomical view.

Christoph Clavius, Christophori Clauii Bamb. ex Societate
Iesu, in sphæram Ioannis de Sacro Bosco, commentarius ([Geneva], 1608), title page.

When medieval astronomers explored the heavens they did so predominantly in an aristotelian framework – there was no rival cosmological system on offer. This situation changed with the Renaissance editorial drive to produce editions of newly available ancient texts, not only aristotelian commentaries but also Platonic and Stoic works. However, sixteenth-century aristotelians faced far greater challenges than their medieval counterparts: the advent of the Copernican challenge and the disquieting fact that the heavens themselves seemed to be undermining key aristotelian tenets: the new star of 1572 and the comet of 1577 provided ample testimony that Aristotle’s neat division between the corruptible terrestrial sphere and the incorruptible heavens where change could not take place was demonstratively wrong. Clavius’s 1581 edition of his commentary on Sacrobosco’s Sphaera portrays an aristotelianism at bay: Clavius’s first edition of 1570 of Sacrobosco might have said little of Copernicus and focused instead on another perceived threat, the homocentric theory of Fracastoro , but the many later editions, such as Worth’s copy, could not afford to ignore the celestial events of the 1570s.

Christoph Clavius, Christophori Clauii Bamb. ex Societate
Iesu, in sphæram Ioannis de Sacro Bosco, commentarius ([Geneva], 1608),
Manuscript notes at end of work and p. 209 (notes on nova in Cassiopeia).

Here we see Clavius trying to cope with the new star of 1572 – which, as the illustration makes clear, was visible in the constellation Cassiopeia. The problem of the nova in Cassiopeia for aristotelians was that it indicated change in a region where, according to Aristotle, no change should take place: the celestial sphere. The nova of 1572 and the comet of 1577 produced not only a range of anti-Aristotelian treatises but also a diversity of aristotelian responses to the issue of celestial incorruptibility. Clavius agreed with Tycho Brahe that the nova in Cassiopeia was indisputably located in the celestial regions but argued that it was only apparently a new star – suggesting that it had pre-existed in the heavens but hadn’t been visible up until then. This was at least nominally aristotelian but subsequent Jesuit astronomers such as Giambattista went much further, trying other tactics: Riccioli agreed that the heavens were subject to change but based his acceptance not only on the sighting of new stars and comets but also the Bible and Church Fathers. For Clavius too, the ultimate judge was Scripture. The religious underpinning of his commentary on Sacrobosco is reflected in the title page of the collected works by Clavius in the Worth Library – his Mainz 1612 edition.

Christoph Clavius, Opera Mathematica (Mainz, 1612), 5 v., title page of v1.

Other Works by these authors in the Worth Library:
Aratus Solensis, Phaenomena… Ioachimi Perionij opera… (Paris, 1540). 4o. This work is also included in a number of compilations of Greek poetry and works on astronomy.

Selected Reading:

Feingold, M. (ed.) (2003) The New Science and Jesuit Science: Seventeenth Century Perspectives. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Feingold, M. (ed.) (2003) Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Gingerich, O. (1988) ‘Sacrobosco as a Textbook’, Journal for the History of Astronomy 19, no. 4, 269-273.
Goldstein, B. R. (1972) ‘Theory and Observation in Medieval Astronomy’, Isis 63 no. 1 (Mar.), 39-47.
Grant, E. (1985) ‘A New Look at Medieval Cosmology, 1200-1687’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 129 no. 4 (Dec.), 417-432.
Lattis, J. M. (1994) Between Copernicus and Galileo. Christoph Clavius and the Collapse of Ptolemaic Cosmology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Leff, G. (1992) ‘The Trivium and the Three Philosophies’ in Hilde De Ridder-Symoens (ed.) A History of the University in Europe vol I. Universities in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 307-336.
Maxwell, H. C. ‘Hipparchus and the Precession of the Equinoxes’, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 91889-1901), 6 (1900-1902), 450-456.
North, J. (1992) ‘The Quadrivium’ in Hilde De Ridder-Symoens (ed.) A History of the University in Europe vol I. Universities in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 307-336.
Okruhlik, K. (1978) ‘The Interplay between Theory and Observation in the Solar Model of Hipparchus and Ptolemy’, Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1, 73-82.
Pantin, I. (1998) ‘Is Clavius worth reappraising? The impact of a Jesuit mathematical teacher on the eve of the astronomical revolution’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 27 no. 4, 593-598.
Pedersen, O. (2004) ‘Sacrobosco, John de (d. c.1236)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.
Pedersen, O. (1985) ‘In Quest of Sacrobosco’, Journal for the History of Astronomy XVI, 175-221.
Thorndike, L. (1949) The Sphere of Sacrobosco and its commentators. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Toomer, G. J. (ed.) (1998) Ptolemy’s Almagest. Princeton University Press.
Zhitomirsky, S. (1999) ‘Aratus’ ‘Phaenomena’: Dating and Analysing its Primary Source’, Astronomical and Astrophysical Transactions 17, 483-500.
Toomer, G. J. (1978): ‘Hipparchus’, Dictionary of Scientific Biography 15, 207-224

What were the challenges for the ancients to observe the orbit of the Moon (instead of Mars)? - Astronomy

This model of planetary catastrophism includes first, Mars making a flyby of Venus, an energetic inside flyby of Venus at the 76th longitude. It was on January 24, +/- 1 day, 701 B.C.E. This was where the orbits of Mars and Venus crossed as Mars approached its old perihelion in that era.

Next and last, Mars is modeled as having made an even more energetic flyby, this time a unique outside flyby, of the Earth at longitude 179 or 180. That is where the orbit of Mars crossed the Earth's orbit for the last time. This second energetic flyby, 55, 56 or 57 days later, occurred on the night (Near East Time) of March 20-21, 701 B.C.E.

This model, for the year 701 B.C.E., is one of double-barreled catastrophism. Evidence might be found either contradicting or supporting this model. For instance, the position of the Moon, modeled as being at full moon on the night of March 20-21, 701 B.C.E., can be retro-calculated. Does the Moon retro-calculate back, using a 365.256-day year, to a full moon on March 20-21, 701 B.C.E.?

And what about retro-calculating the positions for Mars, Venus, and Jupiter? Will their retro-calculations give testimony for or against this model?

If such retro-calculations were correctly made, and were in disagreement with this model, this model would be flawed. If only some of the clues were in agreement, the model would be partly flawed. If retro-calculations of all three planets and the Moon are found to be in agreement with the model, it will be a confirmation. It is comparable to a murder mystery, where a detective listens to the alibis of the four suspects of the crime. Next he proceeds to verify the veracity of the alibis.

Chapter 11 includes nine of twelve categories of clues each is a test for the validity of the model. Chapter 12 contains clues 10 to 12.

Four clues, or tests, for this model are retro-calculations back to March 21, 701 B.C.E. for the positions of the key planets, the Moon's position, and the positions of Venus, Mars and Jupiter. These are discussed in clue 1 (the Moon), clue 2 (Venus), clue 4 (Mars) and clue 6 (Jupiter).

The third clue is the semi-major axis, and the location of the perihelion of Venus. Does its position also contain some kind of a clue of Mars-Venus catastrophism? Evidence of violence on the surface of Venus has been found, but the specifics have not been cited herein. If there was violence to its crust, perhaps there was violence to its orbit as well? Perhaps there is evidence thereof.

The fifth clue is the modern orientation orbit of Jupiter and its semi-major axis. It is modeled that Jupiter's orbital period and the Earth's were in a 12:1 resonance, and the Martian orbit was in a 6:1 resonance with Jupiter. Are there vestiges pointing to such a former relationship?

A seventh clue involves the distribution of asteroids in the asteroid belt. There is a certain feature, a gap in the distribution of asteroids at the 2:1 resonance location. It may be instructive. It concerns asteroids that have been perturbed out of resonance, and a characteristic of them. Does the modern orbit of Mars contain a parallel characteristic?

It is recalled that the Earth is modeled as formerly having been in 2:1 orbital resonance with Mars. But no longer. Is there anything common about asteroids that have left 2:1 resonance and planets that have left 2:1 orbital resonance? These are technical questions, but such is the nature of little clues.

The eighth clue involves the twin spin axis tilts of the Earth and Mars. Both tilts are close to 22.5°. This was discussed in chapter 8. Is there any way other than alternating, reciprocal planetary catastrophism for those two spin axes to have twin tilts?

The ninth clue involves the spin axis of the Earth. It responds to lunar and solar tides, and in its response, the spin axis follows a great circle in the northern heavens, a circle which takes 25,800 years to complete. Today, Polaris is the North Star, where the spin axis points. It will point there again in 25,800 years. Where did the spin axis point during the Catastrophic Era according to ancient accounts?

Ursa Minoris was the pole star when the Final Flyby occurred, 2,700 years ago. It is "Kochab" in Arabic, which means "The Pole Star". Has luni-solar tides, and consequent spin axis precession been ongoing forever in 25,800-year cycles? 1,550 of them would cover the last four billion years? Or is there evidence that planetary catastrophism has disrupted and reorganized luni-solar precession?

The tenth clue is the 360-day calendars, calendars so popular with the ancients on five continents. And the tenth clue cites their 360-degree circles, also popular with ancient mathematicians and surveyors on three continents.

If the Earth has always had a 365.256-day year, why were 360-day calendars used on every continent and 360-degree circles were also used in China, the Middle East and the Near East? Perhaps calendars, like other time pieces, can tell a story and if so, what is their message? Is it that the ancient mathematicians and calendar-makers couldn't count?

The eleventh clue is the mystery clue.

The twelfth clue involves the development of the English language from a variety of ancient languages, including Anglo Saxon, Scandanavian and Germanic languages, French, Latin, Greek and a smattering of other ancient sources. Their words for Mars included words such as Ares, Baal, Bel, Horus, Indra, Mars, Nergal and the Chinese dragon star.

Perhaps the ancient Greek words for little Deimos and Phobos also have left their imprints in modern English.

How many words in modern English are derived from various ancient words for Mars? 100 words, 200, 300, 400 or even 500 words. What kind of thoughts or experiences do those Mars-related words suggest? "March", for instance. Or "dis-aster" (aster = planet). Or cat-astro-phe. "Cata" means thrown downward from the heavens.

What kind of words and thoughts would these modern words in 20th century English tend to convey? Are these words linguistic vestiges of the Mars-Earth Wars? Are they linguistic scars of Mars?

Clue # 1 - The Moon And The Final Flyby Of Mars

This model states that the Moon's position was at "full moon" during the Final Flyby on the night of March 20, 701 B.C.E. It was the Hebrew Passover, and the Moon always was full on Passover nights. On the Hebrew Nisan calendar, it was Friday, the 13th of Nisan, our night of March 20. According to ancient Hebrew literature, each of the twelve months had 30 days. The night of the 7th was always a new moon, and the night of each "Passover" was always during the full moon in the month of Nisan.

This catastrophic flyby was on the anniversary of a long series of anniversaries of "unlucky" Friday the 13ths. In the modern era, the myth of bad experiences of this particular night, Friday the 13th, comes down to our age through Hebrew folklore. It was in an era when cosmic developments of that night really were a bad experience.

The Irish are not to be easily outdone. Another theme, the Halloween theme, a late October flyby theme, fairly similar, has been passed down from the ancient Celtic druids of Ireland and Great Britain. This type of flyby coincided with the October case flybys, October 24.

Recently the phase of the Moon was again at full on December 6, 1995. This is 2,700 years lacking a few months of the Final Flyby. According to the model, prior to the Final Mars Flyby, the Moon's orbit was in 12:1 resonance with the Earth's old orbit, and 30 days comprised an old month as did 360 days comprise a year.

According to the model, the Moon was about 242,000 miles from the Earth. The period of the Moon suddenly contracted to 29.53059 days and its average distance became 238,860 miles.

Its new orbit, and orbital period were established, according to the model, on the day immediately after the Mars Flyby, on March 22, 701, as Mars swept through the Earth-Moon system, between the two. The red planet came about eight times closer to the Earth, at 27,000 miles, than to the Moon, at 215,000 miles.

In this close flyby, the Fire Star, Ares, pulled the Earth-Moon system out over 690,000 miles. Simultaneously Ares, bane of mortals, pulled the Moon inward, closer to the Earth, by about 3,000 miles.

The Moon's position can be retro-calculated backward to March 20, 701 B.C.E. When doing this, it is important to know whether the year for "zero" between B.C.E. and AD is counted. Some do it one way some the other. Usually, it is not counted, as is the case here. Further, in calculations, it is necessary to include an error, a four-year error, made by medieval monks.

THE DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS FACTOR. Dionysius Exiguus was a medieval monk, who was given the task of resolving a calendar dispute as to the proper date for Easter. Later research revealed Dionysius had missed four years in assessing the year of Christ's birth. Many centuries before this error was identified, his dating system for history had come to be accepted.

His error was not revised, in order to minimize confusion. By the time his error was realized, the sequencing of historical dates for the Roman Empire and for early Christianity had long ago become too widely accepted. So Dionysius' dates were kept, and mankind was left with a quixotic system. The accepted system cites that Christ was born in 4 B.C.E., seemingly an impossibility. Inclusion of the Dionysius factor is essential in any careful analysis.

The calculations for retro-calculating the Moon's position are as follows.

1. March 21, 701 B.C.E. to March 20 1 B.C.E. 700 years
2. March 21, 1 B.C. to March 20, 1 AD 1 year
3. March 21, 1 AD to March 20, 1995 1994 years
4. March 21, 1995 to Dec. 6, 1995 260 days
5. Add 4 years for Dionysius Exiguus 4 years
Total 2,699 years 260 days

The time lapse 2,699 years and 260 days is also 2699.7118 years, which also is 986,087 days. The Moon's modern period is 29.53059 (synodic). This day count, 986,087 days, when divided by 29.53059, determines where the Moon was on the night of the Final Waltz. Between these dates, both full moons according to the model, the Moon has made 33,392.05 orbits. The full moon enjoyed on December 6, 1995 was the 33,391-st full moon since the night of the Final Flyby.

Retro-calculating the position of the Moon to March 21, 701 B.C.E. agrees with the model to within .05 of a day, virtually to the hour. It also agrees with the ancient Jewish calendar to .05 of a day. Were this agreement be mere chance, be mere "coincidence", it would be one chance in 30. Such a coincidence is entirely possible. Whether or not it is "probable" depends on the evidence quality in the other eleven clues.

Clue # 2 - Dating The Final Fling Of Mars And Venus

This model for 8th century B.C.E. planetary catastrophism holds that the Final Fling between Mars and Venus preceded by about 56 days, plus or minus one, the Final Flyby between Mars and the Earth. The Mars-Venus flyby expanded the orbit of Mars, and thereby triggered the outside geometry of the Final Waltz of the Earth with Mars. If the first Mars-Venus flyby was the trigger, then the Mars-Earth flyby was the shot, the explosive event that produced gradualism for Venus, Mars and our planet.

Therefore this date, January 24, +/- 1 day, becomes one of the truly pivotal dates in the history of this Solar System. The retro-calculating of the position of Venus on January 24, 701 B.C.E. is as follows.

THE STARTING POINT. On December 8, 1874 there was an occultation, known as a "transit of Venus." Venus happened to pass directly between the Sun and the Earth. On that day both were at the same celestial longitude and latitude that particular day. The Earth, Venus and the Sun were in a straight sight line.

The Earth was at longitude 78 on December 8, 1874. Therefore, Venus in its orbit also was at longitude 78. This date and place (78° longitude) locates a "starting point" for retro-calculating the position of Venus back to January 24, 701 B.C.E.

The objective is to retro-calculate and locate Venus in its modern orbit, very early 701 B.C.E. Part one in this retro-calculation is to locate the position of Venus in late 700 B.C.E. By calculation the orbit in December 1874 was the 4,190th Venetian orbit since the day Venus seemingly acquired its modern orbit.

By the model, Venus changed from an old orbit period of 226.017716 days down to 224.701 days. The following is a retro-calculation of the position of Venus back to the 700 B.C.E.

For the preceding 4,190 orbits of Venus, from its 1874 transit, counting in Earth days, the multiplication is 4,190 x 224.701. The result is 941,497.19 days. In Earth years, this is 2,577.63 years. .63 years is also 230.1 Earth days. Following is the summary.

1. Dec. 8, 1874 to Dec. 8, 1 AD 1873 years
2. Dec. 8, 1 AD to Dec. 8, l B.C.E. is
(There is no year "zero" in this counting system.)
1 year
3. Dec. 8, 1 B.C.E. to Dec. 8, 700 B.C.E. 699 years
4. The Dionysius Exiguus factor 4 years
5. Dec. 8, 700 B.C.E. to April 22, 700 B.C.E. 230 days
6. Total 2,577 years 230 days

A second factor for consideration is transitional time. The "old calendar" contained 360 days, comprised of twelve months of 30 days each. (February 29 and 30 were real days to be counted in the old calendar and era.)

From this point, there is a retro-calculation of the position of Venus, two full orbits and 2°, which puts Venus at 76°. It is 722°.

A. The time Venus needed for 2 orbits and 2°:226.018 days = 452.036 days. 2° of additional travel for Venus is 2/365.256 x 224.701 = 1.23 days. 452.036 days + 1.23 days = 453.266 days

B. If 224.701 days, the modern period of Venus is used, the calculations are:224.701 x 2 = 449.402 days. Add 1.23days for Venus to advance 2°.The total is 450.63 days

C. The average between these two values for the transitional orbit of Venus is 451.948 days

Forward calculating for Venus is as follows:

a. January 24 to March 21, 701 B.C.E.
(counting 28 days for February)
56 days
b. March 21 to April 21, 701 B.C.E. 31 days
c. April 21, 701 B.C.E. to April 21, 700 B.C.E 365 days
d. Total - also 452 days

Thus, it retro-calculates that Venus was at 76° on January 24, 701 B.C.E., plus or minus 1 day. While the date is not known with precision, it is likely that the last celestial polka between Mars and Venus occurred on January 24, 701 B.C.E. January 23 and January 25 are possible.

The velocity of Mars as it went into its polka with Venus was approximately 97,100 mph. (Its velocity at its old perihelion nearby was slightly more, at 99,710 mph).

A COMPARISON - THE LAST POLKA AND THE FINAL WALTZ. Figure 23 (chapter 9) illustrates the geometry of the Final Fling of Mars with Venus, an inside flyby for Mars. Figure 24 illustrates the geometry of the Final Waltz of the Mars with the Earth, an outside flyby.

ENERGY. This model affirms that the Final Fling between Mars and Venus was only 64.82% as energetic as was the Final Waltz between Mars and the Earth. It was -.086479 energy units versus +.133424 units.

ANGULAR MOMENTUM. Similarly, there was 40.63% as much angular momentum exchanged during the Martian Final Fling with Venus compared to its Last Waltz with the Earth. It was -.008514 vs. +.020954 momentum units.

DISTANCE. The distance of the last Mars-Earth Waltz is estimated at 27,000 miles, center to planet center. The distance of the Final Mars-Venus Fling is estimated at 29,300 miles. The Final Fling was only 8.5% more distant.

Figure 25 illustrates the old orbit of Mars versus the new orbit of Mars. The old orbit of Mars has the longer "x" axis, a greater length. The new orbit of Mars has a longer "y" axis, a greater width. The old orbit of Mars had an eccentricity of .561 and swept out about 6% more space. The new orbit of Mars rounded out to an eccentricity of .093. The old orbit of Mars went out to the asteroid belt the new orbit of Mars has ceased bothering either the Earth or Venus.

After the last Mars-Venus fling, 56 days later, plus or minus one, Mars assaulted the Earth, energetically but on the wrong side to maintain resonance. It was uniquely on the outside, farther from the Sun. The velocity of the red planet, as it began its last waltz with the Earth, was approximately 80,000 mph. The Earth's velocity was approximately 66,000 mph. Thus Mars lapped the Earth in space once again, but it would be the last time.

As was just mentioned, the span of time for Mars between the last polka, approximately January 24, to the last waltz with the Earth, late on March 20, was 56 days, plus or minus 1. Put another way, the Mars-Earth waltz occurred between 1,340 hours and 1,350 hours later than the Mars-Venus polka. The year 701 B.C.E. was a popular year for celestial dances, and this year was the finale.

CAUSE I. One cause for Mars lapping the Earth on the wrong side was that it gained a significant energy from its inside flyby of Venus. Mars acquired enough additional energy to expand its orbit. Therefore it lapped the Earth on the outside instead of the inside. Thus the Mars-Venus Fling was the trigger for the scenario it (on January 24, 701 B.C.E.) was the beginning of the end for the Catastrophic Era.

CAUSE II. The second cause was the process of unraveling resonance. Computer analysis indicates that any outside flyby of the Earth will threaten to disrupt resonance. An energetic flyby will destroy resonance. Resonance was unraveled when Mars lapped the Earth on the "wrong" side. Mars had to make an inside (Sunward side) flyby for resonance to continue and the catastrophic era to be perpetuated. This time Mars didn't. Its pattern changed, bringing the end of an era.

CAUSE III. Another major factor in rounding out the orbit of Mars was Jupiter. Formerly, Jupiter (Zeus) played the role of holding Mars in resonance. Now out of resonance, Jupiter's gravity was a bigger factor than the Earth's gravity in forcing the orbit of Mars to circularize, to round out. See the Rudolphine Tables, XI, XII and especially Table XIII.

It should be added that this produced both positive and negative effects for life on the surface of the Earth. On the Earth's surface, short run, the catastrophic damage ceased, and this is the good news.

The bad news is that the dynamo of the Earth's geomagnetic field (Mars flybys) went dead. The geomagnetic sheath protects life on the Earth's surface from the actinic (short wave) radiation from the Sun. The geomagnetic field now has a half life of 1,350 years. In 701 B.C.E., its strength was 1.2 Gauss. Presently its strength is down to .3 Gauss, and will become .075 Gauss by 4700 AD Thus the days for life as we know it on the Earth's surface are numbered. Scientists need to understand this.

This study points out that a retro-calculation of the position of the planet Venus has been done. It indicates that in January of 701 B.C.E., on or about January 24, at the 76th longitude, the two orbits of Venus and Mars crossed. On this date, Venus was there and Mars also was there. Mars was on the inside their closest distance was about 29,300 miles. Mars, the faster, lapped Venus from the inside, the sunward side.

Figure 24 - The Catastrophic and the Modern Orbits of Mars

Figure 25 - Geometry and Distances of the Final Mars Earth Flyby

First, this retro-calculation of the position of Venus agrees to within 1 day with the model of the Venus location.

Venus advances about 1.6° in one day. This intersection is the 76th celestial longitude, where Venus was on January 24, 701 B.C.E. Allowing for a margin for error of one day, this produces a 3.2-degree zone in the orbit of Venus. A retro-calculation of the modern orbit of Venus back to January 24, 701 B.C.E. agrees closely with the model.

Second, the chance of a retro-calculation of the Venusian modern orbit agreeing within one day with the model "by chance" is 360 divided by 3.2 or conservatively, one chance in l00.

In clue # 1, the chance of agreement by retro-calculation of the Moon's position was one chance in 30. The corporate chance that both the Moon and Venus agreeing is one chance, or coincidence, in 3,000. The chance for "coincidence" becomes somewhat weaker.

It is clear that this model of the old orbits of Mars, Venus and the Earth in Catastrophic Era CAN BE VALID ONLY IF THE TRANSITION MECHANISM WORKS IN ALL OF ITS PARTS. So far, the parts are beginning to "add up."

Clue # 3 - The Location Of The Perihelion Of Venus

The third interesting solar system condition to be noted involves the orbit of Venus, and its semi-major axis. The modern perihelion of Venus is located at the 131st celestial longitude. Its aphelion is at 311°.

The 131st longitude in the orbit of Venus coincides with the place in space where the old, catastrophic Mars exited from Venusian orbit space. Mars exited from the Earth's orbit space at the 180th longitude, which is our vernal equinox.

It is suggested that the very first Mars-Venus catastrophe, whenever it took place, was at longitude 131. It reorganized the semi-major axis of the orbit of Venus, an orbit which is close to circular.

By way of a parallel thought, it also is probable that the very first of the Mars-Earth flybys, whenever it occurred, was a March case flyby, on March 20-21, at longitude 179 or 180. That is where Mars put its first torque on the Earth's spin axis.

Ever since, the spin axis has been tilted so that its anniversary, March 20-21 has been the Earth's vernal equinox. March 20-21 was then and still is the first day of spring. It is one of the two days in the year when there is exactly twelve hours of sunlight in both hemispheres. (The other day is September 21, the first day of autumn). Thus it is suspected that Mars in its catastrophic orbit organized both the Venusian perihelion and the Earth's vernal equinox, which also was the Hebrew Passover and the Roman tubulustrium.

It appears now that the mechanism for the placement of the perihelion of Venus, at 131°, ALSO IS A RELIC OF THE ANCIENT MARS-VENUS WARS. This perihelion location is just as much a relic of the Mars-Venus Wars as are the scars on the surface of Venus, which also were Mars-induced.

It would never occur to a gradualist in astronomy that Mars orchestrated the perihelion of Venus. A gradualist has no reason to ask the key question. On the other hand, to a planetary catastrophist studying this model and the orbit of Venus, the orchestration of the Venusian perihelion by the catastrophic Mars verges on the obvious.

How do the traditionalists and gradualists explain this geometry of the Venusian orbit. The question has never surfaced until this time, until recognition of Clue 3. Explaining perihelion locations have not been a concern of gradualism. In the literature of astronomy, nowhere in the last 200 years has there been any explanation for the location of the perihelion of Venus, pointing to the 131st longitude. Until now.

Similarly, in all the literature of astronomy, there still (in 1996) IS no explanation that the Roche Limit of Mars caused the fragmented of Astra, creating the asteroids - and creating the Clobbered Hemisphere of Mars. Leaders in astronomy, highly intelligent to be sure, still are not asking the right questions.

The perihelion of Venus could be positioned at the place in space where Mars exited Venusian space, just "by chance," within 2° of either one of the two locations where Mars crossed the Venusian orbit. The chance of the Venusian perihelion aligning by coincidence with either one of the two ancient Venus-Mars intersection sites is a pair of four-degree chances. It is eight chances in 360, or one chance in 45. The corporate odds for all three clues being "coincidence" rises from one chance in 3,000 to one chance in 135,000, conservatively calculating.

Hesiod Reporting On Planet Wars In 701 B.C.E.

It is apparent from "The Shield of Herakles" that Hesiod saw the last polka of Venus and Mars (to him, a celestial war between Pallas Athene and Ares). He wrote about their celestial tiff, so he probably saw it, even though, at Thebes Greece, he was some 40,000,000 miles distant.

It would be the red planet's last tryst in space with Pallas Athene. However, as Hesiod saw and reported correctly, it was a celestial war between a fast, fired up, furious, impassioned Mars with a "scowling, gray-eyed" Pallas Athene. (Greeks had gender for their planets, masculine for Mars, feminine for Venus. He also portrayed the cloudy Venus as "gray-eyed," interestingly and in a sense, accurately).

Apparently, a powerful electrical flux tube formed between the two planets, possibly of over 100,000 volts. Lightning strikes swept between their surfaces for 10 or 15 hours. If so, it was similar to the "current" current in the flux tube actively and constantly flowing between Jupiter and its closest satellite, Io. Io is 255,000 miles from Jupiter, center to center.

The strength of the ongoing flux tube for electricity between Io and Jupiter has been estimated. If those estimates are correct, it flows constantly at 400,000 volts, 5 million amps, two trillion amps. The flux tube between Ares and Pallas Athene may have been less intense it may have been more intense.

When lightning strikes, characteristically there is produced a crater with a small "hump" or rise in the center, at the strike site. Reportedly, there are many such "humps" in craters on the surface of Venus. If there was a flux tube between Venus and Mars, it would have lasted only 10 to 15 hours, when the two planets were in close proximity. If so, at 100,000 volts or more, it would have lit up both the surface of Mars and its cometary tail of Mars like a Christmas tree with 1,000 bulbs.

Today, an ongoing 400,000-volt flux tube flows across 255,000 miles of space between Io, the innermost Jovian satellite, and Jupiter. It is across a vacuum and normally lightning does not like vacuums. Jupiter is 390 times bigger than Venus, and it spins very rapidly, in less than 10 hours. Io may create vast amounts of friction within the rapidly-rotating Jupiter.

But on the other hand, Mars was eight times more massive than is Io, and on its final fling, at 29,300 miles, it was also momentarily eight times closer to Venus than is Io to Jupiter.

Thus our estimate of a series of 100,000 volt electrical discharges between Ares and Pallas Athene could be conservative. The Io-Jupiter flux tube was first photographed by Pioneer 10 and 11, l972 and l973.

If such a Venus-Mars flux tube suddenly appeared, it was due to sudden sub-crustal friction produced by each planet's gravity disturbing the fluid molecules in the internal regions of the other planet.

Clearly, Hesiod described an "aegis of Venus" when Pallas Athene got in the way of Mars. Unclearly, no translator of Hesiod understands what an "aegis" was, much less a flux tube, and much less the cometary tail of Mars, the "Fleece of Aries." Modern translators have no modern word for "aegis" so they use this Greek word without knowing its definition, or the background relating thereto. Thus it is that the "aegis of Venus", like the craters of former lightning discharges, is another of the many scars of Mars.

In ancient Greek literature, the cometary tail of Aries was well-known. In color, the Fleece of Aries was somewhat silvery in color, somewhat golden, and always spectacular. On the light of these developments, it is known that Venus today has a thick gray atmosphere. Interesting it is that Hesiod described Pallas Athene as "gray-eyed." Once again, whether by chance or not, Hesiod as an ancient reporter, deserved a Pulitzer prize.

Perhaps this same "apparition," the cometary, wavy tail of Mars also was seen in the land of Israel. Mars had ices effervescing off only one hemisphere, its Eastern Hemisphere. Its ices effervesced in twelve-hour cycles. To the Hebrews, its cometary tail was seen and described as the fluttering wings of the destructive, dreaded Angel of the Lord. Wings of birds flap in cycles as apparently did the cometary tail of Mars.

Cometary tails today typically feature a twin symmetry in their tails, or "wings." Usually, with short term icy comet tails, the right side flutters in lock step and in mirror image with the left side. So it was that the fluttering, cometary tail of Ares resembled angel's wings just as much as it resembled the fleece of Aries (Ares).

The most important city in Attica then was Athens, a city named after Pallas Athene. In time, it became the capital city of Greece, and still is. Greek cosmic mythology casts Pallas Athene in the role of a "protectress" of Hera, the Earth. Hera and Athene were sister planets, both having endured assaults by Ares.

The conflict between Athene and Ares in January, 701 B.C.E., turned violent. Ares hurled fierce lightning bolts at Athene, and being bigger than Ares, apparently Athene hurled them right back. Again, Hesiod seems to have had it right.

As it turns out in Hesiod's "The Shield of Herakles," the first scene has Ares attacking gray-eyed Pallas Athene. But it was only the first act of a two act cosmic play . a two act celestial drama. The second act was fireworks between Hera and Ares. According to the translator of Hesiod, Lattimore, Hesiod wrote at the turn of the 8th century B.C. and this model agrees. Isaiah lived then also.

Hesiod mentions the steeds of Ares in one way or another some 20 times in 480 lines of description. Phobos is less than 20 miles in its longest diameter and Deimos is less than 10 miles. Hesiod had their number right, two. He had their timing right, accompanying Mars during a Mars flyby. He had their color right, black. He had their speed right, a rapid rush (see line 452, The Shield of Herakles).

Hesiod's description is remarkable, but it would be even more remarkable IF Mars has not been nearby, in flyby phase. Gradualist astronomers are leaders for at least 98 of the cosmology taught today. Perhaps 1.9% aren't so sure. The leaders of ex nihilo creationism account for perhaps 0.1%.

Usually gradualists and ex nihilo creationists disagree on everything, especially when the dawn of Earth history occurred - 10,000 or 4.6 billion years ago. Regardless of when that was, those leaders are united in that, since the dawn of history, whenever it occurred, Mars has never been closer than 30,000,000 miles either to our planet or to Venus. Furthermore Mars has never been that close to the asteroid belt either. So the question is whether or not Hesiod saw the celestial scenes that he described.


In retro-calculating the orbit of Venus, the orbit of Venus shifted sunward only 314,000 miles. Venus has the velocity to make this shift in a few hours or days. Mars, on the other hand, shifted inward to an orbit averaging 141,600,000 miles but it last buzzed the Earth, at 92,250,000 miles.

The question is "Where was Mars on March 20, 701 B.C.E."? The retro-calculation of the position of Mars to March 20, 701 B.C.E., is as follows. Michelsen's Heliocentric Ephemeris places Mars at 10° Virgo on March 20, 1995. [n2] This position cited by Michelsen is also 160° longitude.

1. March 21, 701 B.C.E. to March 20, 1 B.C.E. - 700 years

2. March 21, 1 B.C.E. to March 20, 1 AD - 1 year

3. March 21, 1 AD to March 20, 1995 AD - l994 years

4. Add 4 years for the medieval monk - 4 years

Total 2,699.000 orbits or years

5. In 2,699 Earth years, at 365.256 days per year, there are 985,826 days.

6. The modern period of Mars is 686.979 days.

7. Dividing 985,826 days by the modern period of Mars, 686.979, there have been 1,435.0l8 Mars years in 2,699 Earth years.

8. In retro-calculating the orbit of Mars, assuming no other factors were present, it back calculates to 154°. The model has Mars at 180° on March 21, 701 B.C.E. Mars is slow by 26°.

9. Mars advances .524° per day (360/686.978). 26°/.524 equals 49+ days. If this model is correct, 49 days is the amount time Mars required to find its new orbit. 37 or 38 days was taken by Mars getting to its modern orbit. This leaves 12 or 13 days to be charged to other causes.

10. At an average speed of 55,000 mph, to travel 49,300,000 miles, Mars would require 896 hours, or 37+5 days just to traverse the distance to its new orbit, if it proceeded directly. Such is unlikely, and a longer route is more likely, requiring a few more days.

A direct path accounts for 37 of the 48 days that Mars is short in actuality versus by the model. The rest, another 11 days, may have been consumed in "touring," approaching its new orbit but not by the shortest distance.

Mars advances .524° per day. To be cautious, perhaps was 11 days slow from our calculations. 11 days is 6°. For the model to be within 6° by retro-calculation, it is (360/6) one chance in 60.

Were this model without merit, Mars could just happen to be in the appropriate zone, Virgo, in March 1995, had it been orbiting in its modern orbit for billions of years, and were gradualism a fact of science. It would be one chance in 60 that the model just happens to retro-calculate well.

Corporately, including cases 1 through 3, it was found that the probability of coincidence was 1:30 x 1:100 x 1:45, or one chance in 135,000. Add the retro-calculation of Mars, one chance in 60. For the first four clues, or conditions to align this well with the model, 30 x 100 x 45 x 60, it is one chance in 8,100,000. Chance is fading as an alibi.

Clue # 5 - Jupiter's Orbit And Old Earth's Orbit

In this Solar System, many of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are in various orbital resonances. 2:1 is the most common resonance. Europa and Ganymede are an example, as are Ganymede and Callisto. Mimas-Tethys, Enceladus-Dione are also examples. The period of the orbit of Mercury is in 3:2 resonance with its own spin rate. Pluto is in 3:2 orbital resonance with Neptune.

A few of the asteroids still are in resonance with Jupiter. The Trojan asteroids, for instance, are in 1:1 resonance. Three asteroids are in 2:1 resonance, China, Clematis and Griqua by name. The semi-major axes of these three asteroids line up parallel on a head to toe basis with Jupiter's semi-major axis.

There is one asteroid in 3:1 resonance with Jupiter, Alinda by name. Alinda has an average orbit period of 1,444.2 days Jupiter's period is 4,332.6 days, exactly three times longer than Alinda's period average. The relationship of the semi-major axes of Alinda and Jupiter are of special interest. They are perpetually perpendicular. 3:1 resonance aligns this way. Apparently 6:1 resonance also aligns perpendicularly. Mars had 6:1 resonance with Jupiter.

It is apparent that in the Catastrophic Era, the semi-major axes of the Earth and Mars were aligned parallel, just like the 2:1 asteroids with Jupiter. What is not apparent, but is true, is that both the axes of Mars and the Earth together, in the Catastrophic Era, aligned perpendicularly with Jupiter, just like Alinda. There is evidence.

THE MODERN ORBITS OF THE EARTH AND JUPITER. Could it be that these two major axes of their orbits were in a perpendicular relationship? What is the geometry of their two semi-major axes in the modern age? The Earth's modern orbit is 365.256365 days. Jupiter's orbit is 4332.59 days. Today this ratio is 11.86 so they are no longer in resonance.

But if the Earth were to have had an ancient orbit of 361.1 modern days, they would have been in 12:1 resonance, with Mars at 722.2 days simultaneously in 6:1 resonance with Jupiter. At 365.256 days for the Earth's orbit, they no longer are in resonance. At 361.1 new days or 360 old days, they were, at 12:1.

Figure 26 - Perpendicular Orbits - Jupiter and the Earth

Perhaps it seems complicated to the general reader, but it is all really very simple. In this era, the major axis of Jupiter's orbit is 13.6°, and it was the same in the Catastrophic Era. The Earth's orbit in the modern age is 102.2°. The difference between Jupiter's alignment and the Earth's today is 88.6°. This is only 1.4° from a perfect 90°, perfect right angles. The semi-major axes of the Earth and Jupiter still are virtually perpendicular.

If one asks where the perihelion of the Earth's orbit was in the Catastrophic Era, the answer is simple. It was half way between the October case flyby, October 24, and the March case flyby, March 20. This was 146 days, half of which is 73 days. 73 days from either flyby date, assuming all months had 30 days, was late January 5 or early January 6.

But today, some months have 31 days and one has 28. On today's calendar, the old perihelion would have been midday of January . In our era, it is January 3. This is another indication that when Mars yanked the Earth outward about 616,000 miles, it also yanked the Earth backward. Had it not been, the semi-major axes of the Earth and Jupiter today would be in perfect right angles, as they were in the Catastrophic Era. Figure 26 illustrates.

Gradualism dogmatists will allege that Jupiter's semi-major axis is nearly perpendicular with the Earth, by coincidence. Planetary catastrophists know better. It is just one more vestige, or relic of the Catastrophic Era. It is in the same category as the orientation of the Venusian perihelion to the exit site where Mars crossed its orbit.

What is the chance that by coincidence, Jupiter's and the Earth's semi-major axis align today within 1.4° of right angles? Conservatively, it is six chances in 360, or 1 in 64.

The corporate chance that the first four clues were all coincidences (30 x 100 x 45 x 50) was about one chance in 8,100,000. Multiply by 64. For all five of these clues to be coincidence, such would be the case once in 518,400,000, or approximately 500,000,000 times. "Chance" is becoming a poor if not an impossible explanation.

Clue # 6 Retro-Calculating The Position
Of Jupiter During The Final Flyby

On the night of March 20-21, 1955 AD, Jupiter entered into the 5th degree of Gemini, which is longitude 245. Jupiter's period is 4334.649423 years. Calculations for the locating place in space on the flyby night for Jupiter on March 21, 701 B.C.E. are as follows.

1. March 20-21, 701 B.C.E. to March 20-21, 1995 was 2,699 years.

2. 2,699 modern Earth years = 985,827 days.

3. On March 20-21, 1995 Jupiter was at 245° longitude.

4. The year (orbit) of Jupiter is 4334.65905 days, per Table XIII.
(The Internet fact sheet gives the orbit of Jupiter as 4334.319763 days).

5. 985,827 days / 4334.653907 = 227.4292 orbits.

The conclusion is that on the night of the Final Flyby, Mars and the Earth were waltzing at 180°, just entering the Final Flyby. At the same time, Jupiter was entering the zone of Capricorn, 90° behind the Earth's position, at right angles to the Earth and Mars, in a year with a catastrophe on schedule.

This means that Jupiter was in the position of being precisely perpendicular to the Earth (and Mars) during the Final Flyby. 108 is divisible by 12. It will be demonstrated in Volume III that March catastrophes were periodic that period was 108 years to the day, nearly to the hour. Since 108 is divisible by 12, then the position of Jupiter was precisely perpendicular to the Earth and Mars during each and every March case flyby. This touch of geometry blends beautifully with resonance orbit theory.

Ancient Greek cosmology had Zeus, or Jupiter, as the choreographer of the cosmos. No doubt this is a result of earlier Chaldean cosmology, to which the Greeks fell heir. The Greeks, and the Chaldeans had it right. Modern gradualists have been oblivious to it all.

Resonance theory predicts that Jupiter, or "Zeus-pater" should be perpendicular in position, at right angles to the Mars-Earth flybys, including the last waltz. This retro-calculation of the position of Jupiter agrees with resonance theory. Jupiter was where resonance theory predicts it should have been.

Retro-calculation of orbits back to the catastrophic year 701 B.C.E. has been completed. The Moon has been back tracked and its position agrees. The position for Venus has also, as have been positions for Mars and Jupiter. They all backtrack well, very well.

Clue # 7 - Asteroid Orbits And The Hecuba Gap

There is another interesting clue of the former arrangement of the orbit of Mars. This clue is in the asteroid belt, the spray of asteroids out where Mars and Astra once roamed. When Astra fragmented on the red planet's Roche Limit, some 65% to 70% of the fragments missed Mars, and also avoided orbiting around Mars. They began to orbit the Sun. Such was the genesis of the asteroid belt.

As of 1996, more than 5,000 asteroids have been detected. Of them, the orbits for 1,000 are known. It is the distribution of those asteroids to which attention now is turned. Perturbations, largely from Jupiter but some low level ones, also perhaps from Saturn and Uranus, have rearranged the asteroids. Once they were in a spray distribution, but it is no longer so. Today they are in zones, with clusters and gaps. Figure 27 illustrates.

Note in Figure 27 that there are clusters of asteroids at certain resonances with Jupiter. The Trojan asteroids are two clumps that have settled in at 300 arc seconds, in 1:1 resonance with Jupiter. Another cluster is at 3:2. This is the same resonance as Neptune-Pluto.

However, of more significance are the gaps in the distribution of the asteroids. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune have created gaps at certain resonances. Four of the most prominent gaps in asteroid distribution are found at the following resonances: (a) 2:1 at 600 arc seconds, (b) 7:3 at 700 arc seconds, (c) 5:2 at 750 arc seconds and (d) 3:1 at 900 arc seconds. Collectively, the gaps in the asteroid distribution are known as the Kirkwood Gaps.

Attention is now directed to the 2:1 gap. Asteroids have piled up in a cluster on either side of this gap. Only three asteroids remain in 2:1 resonance, the aforementioned China, Clematis and Griqua. Of the two clusters, the inner cluster has piled up at a maximum at 570 arc seconds and the outer cluster's maximum is at 630 arc seconds.

In both cases, the new clusters peak at being out of resonance by 5%. This is where the new equilibrium occurs. It is difficult for an asteroid to leave resonance by just 1% or 2% or even 3% because Jupiter pulls it back into resonance. When asteroids go out of resonance with Jupiter at the 2:1 gap, they go out of resonance by 4%, 5% or 6%.This is their new stability is zone.

Now, attention is turned to the old orbit of Mars, its catastrophic orbit, and its period. It was in 6:1 resonance with Jupiter and simultaneously was in 2:1 resonance with the Earth, but due to the Final Flyby, its intensity and its unique geometry, resonance unraveled and Mars found a new orbit. Mars found its new orbit period at 94.98% of its ancient orbit (686.978 vs. 723.257). See Table XIII, page 3, column 2.

What does this reflect? It reflects that when Mars left resonance with the Earth, and with Jupiter, it assumed a new stable orbit with a period just like the cluster of asteroids at 570 arc seconds. It is short of resonance by 5.02 % of its period.

By this example and Figure 27, Mars has a new orbit. Whether or not it went out of resonance with Jupiter, it certainly appears like it did. The 2:1 gap in the asteroids is only one gap other gaps occur at 7:3 5:2 and 3:1. As is indicated in Figure 27, the name for these gaps is "The Kirkwood Gaps."

The asteroid gaps have various names. The name given to the 2:1 gap is the Hecuba Gap. In Greek mythology, Hecuba was the wife of King Priam, and the mother of such noted children as Hector, Paris, Helen, etc.

To make a long story short, Mars found its new orbit at a period just like the asteroids that also have left 2:1 resonance with Jupiter. Compared with Jupiter's orbit, the red planet's orbit now is 15.85% of Jupiter's orbit. The ancient 6:1 resonance period was 16.67%. 16.667 divided by 15.85 is at 6:1 resonance. 16.667 divided by l5.85% is 105.17%. Mars is now, 5% out of resonance with both Jupiter at 6:1 and with the Earth at 2:1.

To make a quick conclusion, if the orbit of Mars did not go out of resonance with the Earth's orbit, and with Jupiter's orbit, its orbit certainly looks as if it did.

Judging by the paucity of asteroids in the 2:1 resonance, and the numerous asteroids at about 5% one either side, it is judged that the chance that Mars never shifted into a new orbit from a former orbit, since the dawn of history, is estimated at one chance in ten.

Figure 27 - Asteroid Distribution and
the Hecuba Gap of the Kirkwood Gaps

At the end of clue # 6, the corporate chance for coincidence was calculated at one possibility in 500,000,000. Multiplying by 10, the corporate chance for all seven clues cited thus far is one possibility in five billion. This is one occasion in 5,000,000,000 for "gradualistic chance" to be a reasonable explanation. The standard, traditional menu is not good science. The number 5,000,000,000 is chances, not years.

Clue # 8 - The Twin Tilts Of Mars And The Earth

So far, attention has been directed to various orbits such as the orbit of the Moon, the Earth, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the asteroids. Changing now, clues 8 and 9 are directed toward the Earth's spin axis and the spin axis of Mars.

As was demonstrated in The Recent Organization of the Solar System, the spin rates are very similar, 1,436 minutes to 1,477. As was demonstrated in chapter 8, the tilt of these two spin axes also are similar. The tilts are 23.44° to 23.98°. The similarity of spin rate is 97.2% (spin axis rate) and 97.7% (spin axis tilt).

In Chapter 8, the conclusion was made that Mars-Earth torques occurred ALTERNATELY AND IN THE OPPOSITE SECTORS OF THEIR RESPECTIVE ORBITS. The two locations were March 20-21 and October 27. The longitudes were 180 and 33°. Indication are that the first Mars torque on the Earth was at the March 20-21 orbital location, and all subsequent March case flybys were odd-numbered. The second Mars-Earth flyby was at the October 24 site where Mars also crossed the Earth's orbit. All even numbered torques, beginning with two, were October cases.

Theoretically a 22.5-degree spin axis tilt is the ideal compromise angle under this scenario it is half way between 0°, the most restful angle, and 45°, the most chaotic angle. At 22.5° is the most restful compromise angle. Both Mars and the Earth experienced energetic yanks of the final flyby. Even so, both spin axis tilts are close to that ideal compromise angle. This explanation for the twin angles of their tilts is the only explanation in the literature of astronomy.

How could these two phenomena occur by chance? It is estimated that for each planet, there is one chance in 20 of their being by chance close to this ideal compromise angle. In the light of the Mars-Earth Wars, the chance for these two tilts being twinned is astronomical conservatively it is 20 squared, or one in 400.

The corporate chance for all eight clues being "coincidence" is 30 x 100 x 45 x 60 x 64 x 10 x 400. This is approximately one chance in 2 trillion.

Clue # 9 - General Spin Axis Precession And The Fixed Stars

In popular mystery stories, the more incidental and inconspicuous the clue, the better the mystery and the surprise ending. So it has been with Sherlock Holmes mysteries and Perry Mason performances.

So it is with the twin tilts in Clue # 8. Reciprocal, alternating torques between Mars and the Earth is the first and only explanation ever given in the history of astronomy for this twin phenomena. So it was with Clue # 3, etc. New thought and a new paradigm is needed for astronomy and cosmology, which is the history of the Solar System.

And so it is with the precession of the Earth's spin axis, clue # 9. In astronomy, the fixed stars are the most remote of phenomena, making this is a remote clue. In the past few centuries, the spin axis has pointed to Polaris, the North Star (Ursae Minoris). This star is 400 light years distant and puts out 1,700 times as much light as the Sun. Did the spin axis point to Polaris in 1,000 AD? No. In the time of Isaiah, Hesiod and Sennacherib? No.

Luni-Solar Precession And Planetary Precession

Precession of the spin axis addresses when and where the axis points in its circle among the fixed stars. The spin axis makes a grand circle requiring 25,800 years. It advances 1° every 71.667 years, about 1° in a life time.

Our best ancient sources indicate the ancient Greeks and Chaldeans had only 44 constellations, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere.

Today, and for the last 2,000 years, the north end of the Earth's spin axis points in general to Polaris, the North Star. Has the spin axis of the North Pole always pointed to Polaris? No.

Did it point to Polaris 2,700 years ago, in the age of Isaiah, Sennacherib and Hesiod? No. Then, the spin axis pointed to Beta Ursae Minoris, or Kochab. Kochab in Arabic means "Pole Star." Where will it point 7,000 years from now? Cepheus. Why?

The Moon's gravity pulls on the Earth, but not equally. The attraction is stronger on the equatorial bulge region, because the Earth is not a perfect sphere and there is about 1% more mass in the equatorial bulge zone. The Earth's equatorial diameter is 26 miles greater than is its polar (and spin axis) diameter. Thus the Moon puts a slightly stronger torque on the equatorial bulge. The Sun does also.

Because torques shift at perpendicular angles to the direction of the torque, the Earth's spin axis shifts 90° away from the direction of the Moon's torque. This force is called "lunar precession."

The Sun also pulls unequally on the Earth's equatorial bulge. Because of its greater distance, the Sun's force of attraction is slightly less than half of that generated by the Moon, but always, both forces work together. Their joint effect on the Earth's spin axis is termed "luni-solar precession."

However, there is also a third kind of precession, seldom considered as it is so tiny it is "planetary precession". Planetary precession is caused by the remote planets, Jupiter, Saturn et al. This force is so minute it usually can be ignored. It is ignored because it is a minute effect in the present age, and it is assumed that what occurs in the present age also occurred in the past age. Wrong. In the past age, planetary precession was caused during the l08-year period of Mars flybys. It was sudden and was far greater than was luni-solar precession.

Due to luni-solar precession, the spin axis precesses slowly eastward. It requires 71.67 years, about an average life time, for the spin axis to precess one degree. In 25,800 years, the spin axis precesses a full circle in the heavens, 360°. Polaris has been the North Star for some 2,000 years. In 27,000 AD, Polaris once again will become the North Star.

However, overlooked by the astronomical community, during the Mars-Earth Wars era, planetary precession, caused by Mars flybys, overwhelmed all luni-solar precession. Mars planetary precession continually reset the spin axis back to where Kochab was. So Kochab continued to be the Pole Star for thousands of years, for the entire Catastrophic Era.

Through it all, one relatively tiny dim star of 4.2 magnitude remained as always being the first star on the eastern horizon at the moment of dawn of March 21, the vernal equinox.

The Dilemma Of Mesartim

The name of that small star is Mesartim. In ancient times, Mars-Earth Wars came and went. Latitudes could shift. Climates could change. Killer quakes could recur. Oceanic tides could overwhelm continental shores and sweep far inland. The crust could upthrust. Volcanoes could erupt and re-erupt during the next Mars flyby. Once an ice dump came, dumping celestially cold ice over our planet's two magnetic polar regions.

Cities or farmlands could be struck with celestial lightning. The cardinal directions could shift. The shadows on sun dials could relocate. But Mesartim continued faithful as the first star on the horizon at dawn, on the vernal equinox. It and the other fixed stars were about the only thing in the cosmos that didn't shift, shake, swell or spark.

Reference is made to Mesartim's small constellation. It is a modest, four-star constellation named "Aries." Aries is not large as constellations go, and its stars are not as numerous as stars are in other constellations. Its stars are not especially bright. But, like the month of January on the calendar, the constellation Aries it is well-placed.

This constellation is both the first and the leading constellation in the zone of Aries. Aries gives its name to an entire 30-degree sector of the fixed stars, the first slice of the zodiac. So, the zone of Aries, like January on the calendar, is the first zone in the zodiac. The constellation Aries is like the first week of January. The star Mesartim was well placed, like New Year's Day, the first star of the new year.

In the constellation of Aries there are only four stars, including Sheratan, magnitude 2.7, Hamal, magnitude 2.0 and Mesartim, a dim star, magnitude 4.2. Sheratan is the Arabic word for "sign". Hamal is the Arabic word for "sheep". Mesartim, the dimmest of the four, in Arabic means an especially fat ram. Mesartim, like January 1st on the calendar, is the first point of Aries.

Hamal, the Arabic word for "sheep, is the brightest in this small constellation, and has a magnitude of 2.0. It is sufficiently bright and prominent that navigators on ocean-going ships and submarines do use Hamal for determining location in the middle of the ocean at night.

Mesartim is both a dim star and a double star. In modern times, astronomers have discovered that it is actually a double star, one star virtually overlapping on top of the other. Together, their magnitude is only 4.2. Mesartim is not notable for its brightness. It is notable for its location. It is the first star in the 4-star constellation, Aries. Aries is the lead constellation in the 30-degree zone of Aries. The zone of Aries is the in the lead of twelve zones of the zodiac.

What is even more interesting and significant is that Mesartim ALWAYS WAS the "First Point of Aries," UNTIL AFTER 701 B.C.E. That was when Mars flybys ceased, and that was when planetary precession of the spin axis also ceased.

Aries is the leading constellation in the first zone of the zodiac. THUS MESARTIM HAS ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN AS THE FIRST POINT OF ARIES since the dawn of Sumer and its zodiac. The zodiac, their map of the heavens, is the earliest idea from ancient pre-flood Sumer of which the modern age is aware.

In 1991, in our serene age of gradualism, Mesartim was listed in Bowditch's Book of Navigation Charts as being at 328°.F4 Hamal is at 332°. But in ancient times, Mesartim was always at 1° and Hamal at 5°. The positions of Hamal and Mesartim have shifted due to luni-solar precession over the last 2,700 years. They have shifted from the leading edge of Aries through Pisces and into Aquarius.

Mesartim was so important to the ancients because it always was the star on the horizon at dawn on March 21, the vernal equinox, the first day of spring and a new year.

Astronomers fail to recognize ancient Mars-induced planetary spin axis precession. Repeatedly, it overwhelmed the slow, ongoing luni-solar precession. Ancient literature, which is to the contrary of gradualism, is ignored.

Ancient sun dials, sun caves, sun spirals and other ancient devices for determining changes in latitude and changes in the cardinal directions, are not understood, and hence are usually ignored. Relocating the cardinal directions is what the remodeling of Stonehenge was about. Opinions are that Stonehenge was remodeled either four or five times. This suggests four or five spin axis shifts, or combinations thereof, that the Celtic astronomers considered major.

This also is what the obelisk construction industry in ancient Egypt was all about. It was important in that age to be able to measure and chart the shadow of the obelisk on key days like the summer and winter solstices, and the fall and spring equinoxes.

Mars shifted the position of the spin axis repeatedly, every century. In between, the first star in the zodiac (Mesartim) experienced a modest amount of luni-solar precession but then was reset by the next Mars catastrophe. Mesartim defined the beginning of the zodiac as much as January 1 defines the beginning of the calendar.

As it is with a calendar, so it is with every map of the world or of the heavens. There has to be an arbitrary starting place. For the modern calendar the arbitrary starting date is January 1 for whatever reason.

For the rotating Earth and its longitudes, the arbitrary starting place is the Greenwich Meridian, going through East London and the Greenwich Observatory. Greenwich is at zero longitude there were laid out 180° of longitude on the Earth both to the east and to the west. They meet at the International Date Line. The total thus is 360°, just like the degrees in any circle.

So it is with the ancient zodiac, it also needed an arbitrary starting point. Mesartim filled that need very well. One reason the Greenwich meridian is located as it is at London is due to the location of an important 17th century astronomical observatory, the Greenwich observatory.

Another reason is the defeat of the Spanish Armada, which allowed England to become the queen of the seas. London became the foremost city of the world in banking, in overseas trade, in coinage, in colonizing, in slave trading, in map making and in map marketing.

For a brief time French cartographers placed Paris at 0°, but their maps didn't sell so well. German map makers centered 0° on Frankfurt. Portuguese map makers had Lisbon at 0° longitude. Dutch map makers used Amsterdam. But standardization was needed, and by 1750, the British system had gained world acceptance.

So it was with the map of the heavens. The zodiac, a map of the fixed stars, is the earliest idea that is known to have come from Sumer. It also occurs in India and China. The time selected to start the zodiac was the moment of dawn on March 21. This was "Mars' month" and the 30-degree zone of prominence was "Aries."

The First Point Of Aries

The ancient calendars had 360 days in Sumer, in India and in China. [n3] They needed surveys, and they all developed a 360-degree circle the 360-degree circle also was applied to the heavens. It was subdivided into twelve 30-degree sectors, just like the months in some of the ancient calendars.

The word "zodiac" may or may not have originated in Sumer, but it clearly has come into English from Rome and Greece. In Greek, "zoa" means "the animals." Of the twelve sectors in the zodiac, eight are named after animals and four are named after kinds of people, as follows:

l. Aries, the ram 2. Taurus. the bull 3. Gemini, the twins
4. Cancer, the crab 5. Leo, the lion 6. Virgo, the virgin
7. Libra, the weigher 8. Scorpio, the insect 9. Sagittarius, the steed
10. Capricorn, the goat 11. Aquarius, the water bearer 12. Pisces, the fish

Today, in this celestially serene age, more attention is paid to the brighter Hamal than to the dim Mesartim. As was mentioned, Hamal is used by ship navigators at night and by nuclear submarine navigators also at night to locate their positions in latitude and longitude.

Published for over a century for the navy, Bowditch's Book of Navigation Charts, publishes star positions for oceanic navigation. As was mentioned, recently in 1991, Hamal is now listed at 332° (plus or minus a half degree) and Mesartim at 328°. [n4]

In the ancient times, Hamal was not at 332° it was at 4°. Mesartim was at one degree, the first point in Aries celestially.

But this is an era where only luni-solar precession is calculated. For 2,699 years, both Hamal and Mesartim have been shifting slowly eastward, 1° every 71.67 years. In the 2695 years between 701 B.C.E. and Bowditch's 1991 publication, Mesartim and Hamal have slipped forward somewhere between 35( and 37°.

It is not known how much the spin axis was yanked backward by Mars in 701 B.C.E. as the Earth was also yanked outward. However a 2-degree yank backward is suspected based on the difference in the locations of the old and the new perihelions. [n5]

Astrologers follow a different zodiac, one that conforms to modern positions, and the history of that issue is not addressed here. The old zodiac is under discussion here. 2,699 years have produced 37.6° of shift. That is why Mesartim and Hamal have shifted, on the modern zodiac, out from Aries, all the way across Pisces, and into Aquarius.

Mesartim now is located at about 325.5°. It has shifted about 37°. As was mentioned, it shifts 1° in 71.67 years (25,800/360 = 71.67). Its annual rate of shift is 0.01395° (1/71.67). Luni-solar precession, uninterrupted by Mars planetary precession, is now 2,699 old, and counting.

The Dilemma In Dating Ancient Sumer

An interesting problem arises for anthropologists, archaeologists and some ancient historians who try to date Sumer. They tend to conform to the style of large year counts. Some like to date early pre-flood Sumer at 6,100 B.C.E. But if that dating were correct, and were luni-solar precession always continuing, in 6,100 B.C.E. then Mesartim would have been in Taurus. WHY THEN WAS MESARTIM CALLED "THE FIRST POINT OF ARIES"? Why would it not be called "the midpoint of Taurus"?

Other archaeologists date early Sumer at 8,500 B.C.E. Same question. Why did the ancients say that Mesartim was "the first point of Aries"? It would have been in mid Gemini.

Others, even more subject to gradualist dating, like to date Sumer when Mesartim should have been in Cancer, 11,000 B.C.E. Archaeologists who date pre-flood Sumer so early are sincere they are merely conforming, and perhaps leading others in this style of dating.

It is the old question as to whether the emperor is or isn't wearing any clothes. Children and non-conformists say "No" with a giggle or a laugh or two. Archaeologists, like good citizens of the emperor's domain, maintain dates for Sumer, and Mesartim, that are curious. Why would Sumerian astronomers name Mesartim for a location it would eventually get to in 2,000, or even in 4,000 years into the future?

Archaeologists do not dare quarrel or challenge the principle of ongoing luni-solar precession physicists and astronomers would have a fit. Nor do we. The only problem is that they overlook Mars planetary precession and the Mars-Earth Wars. There is quicksand For those who skirt this issue.

To date Sumer, one must also date the zodiac, one of the earliest of the Sumerian concepts. This includes locating in the cosmos the "First Point of Aries", Mesartim. Luni-solar precession has no chance as the sole explanation, excluding planetary catastrophism. It does not have even one chance in a million. The fixed stars, silent and remote as they are, also have their story for the court.

The first eight clues in combination gave "coincidence" one chance in 2 trillion. Multiply by at least a million. Coincidence and l8th-l9th century gradualism now is calculated as having one chance in 2 quintillion of being correct. Conservatively, that is.

Clues # 10, 11 and 12 are developed in Chapter 12. Not all of the evidence is yet in court.

There is no scarcity of mathematical clues in this Solar System supporting this model of Mars-Earth Wars, and its extension, Mars-Venus Wars. Chapters 1 through 8 presented a series of clues from the physical geography of the badly battered Mars and its two severely pitted, poxed satellites. Gaspra looks like it formerly was with them.

Tables XI, XII and XIII present a logic of how both energy exchanges and angular momentum exchanges agree, and agree simultaneously, at every step.

Story 38 is that the Moon's orbit retro-calculates rather well with this model.

Story 39 is that the orbit of Venus retro-calculates very well also. Longitude 76 is where the Last Fling between Mars and Venus occurred, and January 24, 701 B.C.E. is the date, plus or minus one day.

Story 40 is that longitude 131 was the last exit location of Mars, crossing and leaving the orbit of Venus it coincides with the Venusian perihelion. It is likely that the Venusian perihelion is explained by the first Mars-Venus flyby, with Mars exiting the Venusian orbit at 131°.

Story 41 is that Mars in its modern position also retro-calculates well with this model, featuring the Final Flyby, March 20-21, 701 B.C.E.

Story 42 is that Mars shifted out of resonance with both the Earth and Jupiter. This is the same ratio of shifts by the asteroids in the two Hecuba clusters of asteroids, surrounding the 2:1 gap. The new (modern) period for Mars shifted 5.02% in period away from the orbit of Jupiter, and 5.02% in period toward the Earth and the Sun.

Story 43 is that, during the Catastrophic Era, with 12:1 orbital resonance, the Earth's major axis was necessarily perpendicular to Jupiter's major axis. The Earth and Jupiter were in a 12:1 resonance. The Earth's semi-major axis still is within 1.4° of being perpendicular with the semi-major axis of Jupiter. This is another vestige of the Catastrophic Era, another relic in the cosmos.

Story 44 is that the Earth's spin axis has experienced only luni-solar precession in the modern era, over the last 2,699 years. But before that, planetary precession periodically overwhelmed and reset precession. In that era, dim Mesartim was repeatedly the "First Point of Aries".

By a study of (a) the chronicles of the Hebrew kings, Judah and Israel, the date of the Final Flyby can be ascertained, March 20-21, 701 B.C.E. By (b) retro-calculating the position of Jupiter, it can be shown that Jupiter was in Capricorn at 90°, on the date of the Final Flyby. This harmonizes happily with resonance theory.

By (c) a study of luni-solar precession, the end of the Catastrophic Era can be approximated, though it cannot be precisely dated. It coincided with the beginning of the modern era. Other resources are sufficient to tie down the Final Flyby occasion date to the fraction of a day.

The least familiar, and the most remote, but probably the most daunting of all of the evidence presented in this chapter is the modern position of Mesartim, now 37° from its ancient Sumerian mooring. At 71.67 years per degree there has been 2,700 years of luni-solar precession uncorrected by planetary precession. The luni-solar precession, uncorrected, is the timer.

The ancients had a lack of faith in the Sun rising from the same place on the horizon, and the stability of the cardinal directions over the centuries. This belief among people of the 20th century AD is taken for granted. In the modern era, this fits, but in the Catastrophic Era, it was not the common experience or expectation.

This understanding of the Mars-Earth Wars puts a new light on the extreme interest the ancients had in the constellations and in tracking the planets in their courses across the heavens. It puts a new light on their interest and practical use of their zodiac, their map of the heavens.

Story 45 is that with this map of the heavens and with accurate historical and astronomical records, prophets, monthly prognosticators, star gazers, astrologers, astronomers and swamis could accurately assess both (a) the date of the most recent celestial holocaust and (b) the timing of the next one. Studious prophets could predict when the next Mars holocaust would arrive to the day. That is why their advice was so valuable, and that is why they sat next to kings in the ancient royal councils.

With story 45, the reader now is 87% of the way to the penthouse of planetary catastrophism. Like it is at Seattle's famous Space Needle, the view is majestic, and the menu is good too.


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What (the heck) is a Super Worm Equinox Moon?

Why is only one side of the Moon visible from Earth?What were the challenges for the ancients to observe the orbit of the Moon (instead of Mars)?Super moon or Super lag?Is this a real picture of the moon?What made the recent supermoon so super?Any live moon stream?What are the “lines” in a constellation or asterism called?Why does the half moon appear to have a “nose”?Is the moon inside earth’s atmosphere? If so, what are the consequences?What is the highest angle the moon ever makes above the horizon at the North Pole?

Google News feed shows me the following.

What does the term "Super Worm Equinox Moon" mean and has it ever been used before this 2019 clickbait instance?

Google News feed shows me the following.

What does the term "Super Worm Equinox Moon" mean and has it ever been used before this 2019 clickbait instance?

Google News feed shows me the following.

What does the term "Super Worm Equinox Moon" mean and has it ever been used before this 2019 clickbait instance?

Google News feed shows me the following.

What does the term "Super Worm Equinox Moon" mean and has it ever been used before this 2019 clickbait instance?

Hipparchus and Precession

Perhaps the greatest astronomer of antiquity was Hipparchus, born in Nicaea in what is present-day Turkey. He erected an observatory on the island of Rhodes around 150 BCE, when the Roman Republic was expanding its influence throughout the Mediterranean region. There he measured, as accurately as possible, the positions of objects in the sky, compiling a pioneering star catalog with about 850 entries. He designated celestial coordinates for each star, specifying its position in the sky, just as we specify the position of a point on Earth by giving its latitude and longitude.

He also divided the stars into apparent magnitudes according to their apparent brightness. He called the brightest ones “stars of the first magnitude” the next brightest group, “stars of the second magnitude” and so forth. This rather arbitrary system, in modified form, still remains in use today (although it is less and less useful for professional astronomers).

By observing the stars and comparing his data with older observations, Hipparchus made one of his most remarkable discoveries: the position in the sky of the north celestial pole had altered over the previous century and a half. Hipparchus deduced correctly that this had happened not only during the period covered by his observations, but was in fact happening all the time: the direction around which the sky appears to rotate changes slowly but continuously. Recall from the section on celestial poles and the celestial equator that the north celestial pole is just the projection of Earth’s North Pole into the sky. If the north celestial pole is wobbling around, then Earth itself must be doing the wobbling. Today, we understand that the direction in which Earth’s axis points does indeed change slowly but regularly—a motion we call precession. If you have ever watched a spinning top wobble, you observed a similar kind of motion. The top’s axis describes a path in the shape of a cone, as Earth’s gravity tries to topple it (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Precession. Just as the axis of a rapidly spinning top wobbles slowly in a circle, so the axis of Earth wobbles in a 26,000-year cycle. Today the north celestial pole is near the star Polaris, but about 5000 years ago it was close to a star called Thuban, and in 14,000 years it will be closest to the star Vega.

Because our planet is not an exact sphere, but bulges a bit at the equator, the pulls of the Sun and Moon cause it to wobble like a top. It takes about 26,000 years for Earth’s axis to complete one circle of precession. As a result of this motion, the point where our axis points in the sky changes as time goes on. While Polaris is the star closest to the north celestial pole today (it will reach its closest point around the year 2100), the star Vega in the constellation of Lyra will be the North Star in 14,000 years.

Significant Events

  • 1631: Thomas Harriott and Galileo Galilei observe Mercury with the newly invented telescope.
  • 1631: Pierre Gassendi uses a telescope to watch from Earth as Mercury crosses the face of the Sun.
  • 1965: Incorrectly believing for centuries that the same side of Mercury always faces the Sun, astronomers using radar find that the planet rotates three times for every two orbits.
  • 1974-1975: Mariner 10 photographs roughly half of Mercury's surface during three flybys.
  • 1991: Scientists using Earth-based radar find signs of ice locked in permanently shadowed areas of craters in Mercury's polar regions.
  • 2008-2009: MESSENGER observes Mercury during three flybys.
  • 2011: MESSENGER begins its orbital mission at Mercury, yielding a treasure trove of images, compositional data, and scientific discoveries.
  • 2015: MESSENGER is deliberately crashed into Mercury after expending all its propellant, ending its mission.​
  • 2018: BepiColombo launches with a target date for Mercury orbit insertion of 2025.

China’s first Mars mission enters orbit around Red Planet

China placed is first spacecraft into orbit around Mars on Wednesday, continuing an international blitz on the Red Planet one day after the arrival of a spacecraft from United Arab Emirates and eight days before the landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The global invasion of the Red Planet — with three missions arriving in less than 10 days — is made possible by favorable alignment of Earth and Mars, a positioning of the planets that occurs every 26 months. All three spacecraft launched from Earth last July.

The Chinese Tianwen 1 spacecraft — comprising an orbiter, lander, and rover — ignited its main engine at around 1152 GMT (6:52 a.m. EST) Wednesday. Amateur observers monitoring a radio signal from the Tianwen 1 spacecraft noted a Doppler shift in the tone about 11 minutes later, indicating the probe’s velocity was changing as it braked into orbit around Mars, some 119 million miles (192 million kilometers) from Earth.

The Chinese government did not provide real-time updates or live television coverage of Tianwen 1’s historic arrival.

The Tianwen 1 spacecraft passed behind Mars before ending its orbit insertion maneuver, which was predicted to last approximately 15 minutes. A few minutes before 1300 GMT (8 a.m. EST), amateur radio observers detected the signal from Tianwen 1 again, indicating the spacecraft had successfully entered orbit around Mars.

The China National Space Administration, or CNSA, the country’s space agency, confirmed the successful 15-minute burn of Tianwen 1’s 674-pound-thrust main engine, and said the spacecraft was in orbit around Mars.

The arrival of the Tianwen 1 spacecraft makes China the sixth country or space agency have a probe orbiting Mars, following the United States, the former Soviet Union, the European Space Agency, India, and the UAE.

The spacecraft targeted an approximately 10-day preliminary elliptical, or egg-shaped, orbit around the Red Planet. Tianwen 1 is expected to perform additional rocket burns in the coming weeks to reach an orbit closer to Mars, setting the stage for release of the mission’s lander and rover to descend to the Martian surface some time in May or June, aiming for a touchdown in a broad plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars called Utopia Planitia.

If China pulls off that feat, it will make China the third country to perform a soft landing on Mars — after the Soviet Union and the United States — and the second country to drive a robotic rover on the Red Planet.

The Tianwen 1 orbiter, which will continue its mission after releasing the lander and rover, is designed to operate for at least one Martian year, or about two years on Earth. The solar-powered rover, fitted with six wheels for mobility, has a life expectancy of at least 90 days, Chinese officials said.

Chinese scientists say the Tianwen 1 mission will perform a global survey of Mars, measuring soil and rock composition, searching for signs of buried water ice, and studying the Martian magnetosphere and atmosphere. The orbiter and rover will also observe Martian weather and probe Mars’s internal structure.

Tianwen 1 launched July 23 on China’s most powerful rocket, the Long March 5, and headed off on a nearly seven-month journey to the Red Planet.

The Mars shot is China’s next leap in solar system exploration after a series of progressively complex robotic expeditions to the moon.

Most recently, China returned samples from the moon with the Chang’e 5 mission in December, the first time a mission has brought back lunar rocks since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. China also landed two rovers on the moon in 2013 and 2019, including the first to explore the surface of the lunar far side.

One of China’s repurposed lunar orbiters, Chang’e 2, flew by an asteroid in December 2012.

China officially started development of the Mars mission in 2016.

Tianwen 1 was the country’s second attempt to reach Mars with a robotic probe, following the Yinghuo 1 orbiter, which was stranded in Earth orbit after launch as a piggyback payload on Russia’s failed Phobos-Grunt mission.

The name Tianwen comes from the work of ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan, meaning “quest for heavenly truth,” according to the China National Space Administration.

“The country’s first Martian probe will conduct scientific investigations about the Martian soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere, as well as water,” CNSA said in a statement.

Radar soundings from orbit have indicated the presence of a reservoir of ice containing as much water as Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, in the Utopia Planitia region targeted by Tianwen 1’s lander.

Tianwen 1 is the first Mars mission to fly an orbiter, lander, and rover.

“Tianwen 1 is going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter,” Wan Weixing, the late chief scientist for China’s Mars program, wrote in Nature Astronomy. “No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way. If successful, it would signify a major technical breakthrough.

The orbiter’s seven instruments include a:

  • Medium-Resolution Camera
  • High-Resolution Camera
  • Mars-Orbiting Subsurface Exploration Radar
  • Mars Mineralogy Spectrometer
  • Mars Magnetometer
  • Mars Ion and Neutral Particle Analyzer
  • Mars Energetic Particle Analyzer

The Tianwen 1 rover is cocooned inside a heat shield for a fiery descent to the Martian surface. After releasing from the orbiter mothership, the lander will enter the Red Planet’s atmosphere, deploy a parachute, then fire a braking rocket to slow down for landing.

“Scientifically, Tianwen 1 is the most comprehensive mission to investigate the Martian morphology, geology, mineralogy, space environment, and soil and water-ice distribution,” Wan wrote.

The rover’s six science payloads include a:

  • Multispectral Camera
  • Terrain Camera
  • Mars-Rover Subsurface Exploration Radar
  • Mars Surface Composition Detector
  • Mars Magnetic Field Detector
  • Mars Meteorology Monitor

The rover’s ground-penetrating radar would be one of the first science instruments of its kind to reach the surface of Mars. NASA’s Perseverance rover carries a comparable instrument to scan subsurface layers of the Martian crust in search of water ice deposits.

Tianwen 1 is a Chinese-led project, but scientists and support teams from several countries have agreed to provide assistance on the mission.

Scientists from the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, or IRAP, in France contributed to a Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy instrument on the Tianwen 1 rover.

French scientists, with support from the French space agency CNES, provided guidance to their Chinese counterparts on the spectroscopy technique, which uses a laser to zap a pinhead-size portion of a rock, and a spectrometer to analyze the light given off by plasma generated by the laser’s interaction with the rock’s surface.

The technique allows an instrument to determine the chemical make-up of rocks on Mars.

The discussions between French and Chinese scientists were intended to “maximize the quality of the data” produced by the Tianwen 1 rover, according to Agnes Cousin, a planetary scientist at IRAP who worked with Chinese researchers developing the rover’s instruments.

French scientists from the same research institute helped develop the ChemCam instrument on NASA’s Curiosity rover and the SuperCam payload on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. ChemCam and SuperCam use the same Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy technique as the Tianwen 1 rover.

Researchers from France provided a norite calibration target to fly on the Tianwen 1 rover. It’s similar to a unit on NASA’s Curiosity rover used to calibrate ChemCam’s measurements by turning the instrument on a target — like the rock norite — with a known composition.

The SuperCam instrument on NASA’s Perseverance rover will use a different type rock as a calibration target, but Cousin said last year scientists at her lab in France will still be able to cross-calibrate measurements from Curiosity, Perseverance, and the Tianwen 1 rover.

NASA’s Perseverance rover is on track to reach Mars on Feb. 18, carrying sophisticated instruments designed to study the ancient habitability of the planet. The rover will aim to land in Mars’s Jezero Crater, home to an ancient dried-up river delta. Perseverance will also gather rock samples for return to Earth by a future mission.

Scientists from the Space Research Institute at the Austrian Academy of Sciences assisted in the development of the magnetometer on the Tianwen 1 orbiter and helped calibrate the flight instrument.

Argentina is home to a Chinese-owned deep space tracking antenna used to communicate with Tianwen 1. The European Space Agency also agreed to provide communications time for Tianwen 1 through its own worldwide network of deep space tracking stations.

While NASA and U.S. scientists aided UAE’s Hope Mars orbiter on its voyage to the Red Planet, NASA has no such role on China’s Tianwen 1 mission. NASA’s Deep Space Network, which provides tracking and communications coverage for numerous U.S. and international space probes, has not been called up to support Tianwen 1’s voyage to Mars.

NASA is legally barred from bilateral cooperation with China’s space exploration program without approval from Congress.

Instead, China is using a combination of its own tracking antennas and ESA’s global network of ground stations.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

Measurement of Earth by Eratosthenes

The Greeks not only knew Earth was round, but also they were able to measure its size. The first fairly accurate determination of Earth’s diameter was made in about 200 BCE by Eratosthenes (276–194 BCE), a Greek living in Alexandria, Egypt. His method was a geometric one, based on observations of the Sun.

The Sun is so distant from us that all the light rays that strike our planet approach us along essentially parallel lines. To see why, look at ([link]See Figure 2). Take a source of light near Earth—say, at position A. Its rays strike different parts of Earth along diverging paths. From a light source at B, or at C (which is still farther away), the angle between rays that strike opposite parts of Earth is smaller. The more distant the source, the smaller the angle between the rays. For a source infinitely distant, the rays travel along parallel lines.

Figure 2. The more distant an object, the more nearly parallel the rays of light coming from it.

Of course, the Sun is not infinitely far away, but given its distance of 150 million kilometers, light rays striking Earth from a point on the Sun diverge from one another by an angle far too small to be observed with the unaided eye. As a consequence, if people all over Earth who could see the Sun were to point at it, their fingers would, essentially, all be parallel to one another. (The same is also true for the planets and stars—an idea we will use in our discussion of how telescopes work.)

Eratosthenes was told that on the first day of summer at Syene, Egypt (near modern Aswan), sunlight struck the bottom of a vertical well at noon. This indicated that the Sun was directly over the well, meaning that Syene was on a direct line from the center of Earth to the Sun. At the corresponding time and date in Alexandria, Eratosthenes observed the shadow a column made and saw that the Sun was not directly overhead, but was slightly south of the zenith, so that its rays made an angle with the vertical equal to about 1/50 of a circle (7°). Because the Sun’s rays striking the two cities are parallel to one another, why would the two rays not make the same angle with Earth’s surface? Eratosthenes reasoned that the curvature of the round Earth meant that “straight up” was not the same in the two cities. And the measurement of the angle in Alexandria, he realized, allowed him to figure out the size of Earth. Alexandria, he saw, must be 1/50 of Earth’s circumference north of Syene ([link]). Alexandria had been measured to be 5000 stadia north of Syene. (The stadium was a Greek unit of length, derived from the length of the racetrack in a stadium.) Eratosthenes thus found that Earth’s circumference must be 50 × 5000, or 250,000 stadia.

Figure 3. Eratosthenes measured the size of Earth by observing the angle at which the Sun’s rays hit our planet’s surface. The Sun’s rays come in parallel, but because Earth’s surface curves, a ray at Syene comes straight down whereas a ray at Alexandria makes an angle of 7° with the vertical. That means, in effect, that at Alexandria, Earth’s surface has curved away from Syene by 7° of 360°, or 1/50 of a full circle. Thus, the distance between the two cities must be 1/50 the circumference of Earth. (credit: modification of work by NOAA Ocean Service Education)

It is not possible to evaluate precisely the accuracy of Eratosthenes solution because there is doubt about which of the various kinds of Greek stadia he used as his unit of distance. If it was the common Olympic stadium, his result is about 20% too large. According to another interpretation, he used a stadium equal to about 1/6 kilometer, in which case his figure was within 1% of the correct value of 40,000 kilometers. Even if his measurement was not exact, his success at measuring the size of our planet by using only shadows, sunlight, and the power of human thought was one of the greatest intellectual achievements in history.

Martian moon's orbit suggests the Red Planet had a ring

A cycle of moon formation could explain the slightly tilted orbit of Mars' moon Deimos.

Mars has two moons circling the planet, called Phobos and Deimos. For many years, scientists supposed that both of these moons were captured asteroids, or space rocks. But new research shows the orbit of Deimos would not make that possible.

Deimos is very slightly tilted to the Martian equator, by only two degrees. Initially, the difference was so small that many scientists overlooked the matter.

"The fact that Deimos' orbit is not exactly in plane with Mars' equator was considered unimportant, and nobody cared to try to explain it," study lead author Matija Cuk, a research scientist at the SETI Institute, said in a statement. "But once we had a big new idea and we looked at it with new eyes, Deimos' orbital tilt revealed its big secret."

The secret came from looking at the motions of Phobos, which orbits closer to the Martian surface and is slowly spiraling into the planet. Eventually, Phobos will drop so close to Mars that the gravity of the much larger planet will pull the moon into pieces — forming a ring.

Study co-authors David Minton, a professor at Purdue University, and Andrew Hesselbrock, who was his graduate student at the time of the research, suggest that Phobos' future is not a one-off event. Instead, after the moon is pulled apart, eventually the pieces will reform into another moon. This not only will happen to Phobos, but has happened already other times in the Martian past.

This breaking up and reforming of moons would in turn explain how Deimos' orbital tilt happened.

"This cyclic Martian moon theory has one crucial element that makes Deimos&rsquo tilt possible: a newborn moon would move away from the ring and Mars . in the opposite direction from the inward spiral Phobos is experiencing due to gravitational interactions with Mars," the SETI Institute said in the statement.

"An outward-migrating moon just outside the rings can encounter a so-called orbital resonance, in which Deimos' orbital period is three times that of the other moon," the institute added. "We can tell that only an outward-moving moon could have strongly affected Deimos, which means that Mars must have had a ring pushing the inner moon outward."

This theoretical outward-moving moon would have been huge, at 20 times more massive than Phobos. Phobos is theorized to be two generations younger than this moon, which broke up and reformed twice — the second time forming Phobos. Also, the age of Phobos favors the theory. Deimos is billions of years old, but Phobos is as young as 200 million years old — meaning it formed when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

So far, no spacecraft has been able to get up close to either Martian moon to test geological theories, but that could change soon. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans to send a mission to Phobos in 2024, called Martian Moons Exploration (MMX). If all goes to plan, MMX will pick up a sample from Phobos to return to Earth.

"I do theoretical calculations for a living, and they are good, but getting them tested against the real world now and then is even better," Cuk said in the statement.

The research was presented at the 236th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, held virtually until June 3. A paper based on the work has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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This link has the arxiv report too. The abstract states ""We numerically explore the possibility that the large orbital inclination of the martian satellite Deimos originated in an orbital resonance with an ancient inner satellite of Mars more massive than Phobos. We find that Deimos's inclination can be reliably generated by outward evolution of a martian satellite that is about 20 times more massive than Phobos through the 3:1 mean-motion resonance with Deimos at 3.3 Mars radii. This outward migration, in the opposite direction from tidal evolution within the synchronous radius, requires interaction with a past massive ring of Mars. Our results therefore strongly support the cyclic martian ring-satellite hypothesis of Hesselbrock and Minton (2017). Our findings, combined with the model of Hesselbrock and Minton (2017), suggest that the age of the surface of Deimos is about 3.5-4 Gyr, and require Phobos to be significantly younger."

The surface age of Deimos is critical here and reconciling the age differences between Phobos and Deimos. I am glad to see *we numerically explore the possibility* in reports like this. The article stated "Deimos is billions of years old, but Phobos is as young as 200 million years old — meaning it formed when dinosaurs roamed the Earth."

Howell's article is not bad, but a more comprehensible one is here: .

As rod notes, a very testable theory. Besides the moon ages, there should be lots of ring debris at the martian equator - AFAIU Curiosity is roaming on top of that!

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United Arab Emirates’ Hope

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope mission will investigate the Red Planet’s atmosphere and weather patterns from a farther-out orbit than other orbiters.
Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Center

The United Arab Emirates is taking a different approach to its first Mars mission than China. China’s all-in-one survey orbiter has a general mission to develop base maps and survey the Martian weather and space environment to further the country’s exploration plans. In contrast, the Emirates Mars Mission, named Al-Amal or Hope, is tightly focused on answering a specific set of science questions.

The mission seeks to advance Mars climate and weather science beyond the current state of the art. By taking advantage of public data and international expertise from 50 years of Mars exploration, the team is jumping right into making scientific contributions to our understanding of the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

An image of the orbiter in a cleanroom show testing proceeding as planned.
Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Center

To accomplish that end, the 1,500-kilogram orbiter will carry three remote-sensing instruments — a multiband camera and infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers — to a wide, elliptical orbit (22,000 by 44,000 kilometers, or 14,000 by 27,000 miles) around Mars. This is far more distant than other orbiters the closest it comes to Mars is just inside the orbit of the moon Deimos.

From this remote viewpoint, Mars will rotate more slowly under the orbiter, enabling the instruments to take long looks at the development and evolution of global weather patterns. The data should be highly complementary to closer-in, atmosphere-focused satellites like NASA’s MAVEN and ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, providing valuable global context for their more detailed views.

Sultan Alneyadi / Twitter

For the United Arab Emirates, Hope has a second set of worldly goals that are equally as important as the scientific ones: The mission is part of a long-term national effort to take the country from an oil-based economy to an expertise-based one.

The UAE only established its space agency in 2014, and Hope is its first interplanetary spacecraft. The team is building it with help and training from experienced international partners, in the process developing a cohort of talented young Emirati engineers and scientists. The average age of its science team members is 27, and 80% of the science team is women. (While approximately 25% of American planetary scientists are women, on average they make up only 16% of NASA mission science teams.) With an overwhelmingly youthful population, the UAE hopes that its aptly named mission will inspire young people at home and elsewhere in the Middle East to envision a future of pride and achievement in science and technology.

The Biggest Problem In Science Isn’t Groupthink

The Solar System formed from a cloud of gas, which gave rise to a proto-star, a proto-planetary . [+] disk, and eventually the seeds of what would become planets. The crowning achievement of our own Solar System's history is the creation and formation of Earth exactly as we have it today, which may not have been as special a cosmic rarity as once thought.

Some 500 years ago, there was one scientific phenomenon that was, without controversy, extremely well-understood: the motion of the celestial objects in the sky. The Sun rose in the east and set in the west with a regular, 24 hour period. Its path in the sky rose higher and the days grew longer until the summer solstice, while its path was the lowest and shortest on the winter solstice. The stars exhibited that same 24 hour period, as though the heavenly canopy rotated throughout the night. The Moon migrated night-to-night relative to the other objects by about 12° as it changed its phases, while the planets wandered according to the geocentric rules of Ptolemy and others.

We often ask ourselves, “how was this possible?” How did this geocentric picture of the Universe go largely unchallenged for well over 1,000 years? There’s this common narrative that certain dogma, like the Earth being stationary and the center of the Universe, could not be challenged. But the truth is far more complex: the reason the geocentric model held sway for so long wasn’t because of the problem of groupthink, but rather because the evidence fit it so well: far better than the alternatives. The biggest enemy of progress isn’t groupthink at all, but the successes of the leading theory that’s already been established. Here’s the story behind it.

This chart, from around 1660, shows the signs of the zodiac and a model of the solar system with . [+] Earth at the centre. For decades or even centuries after Kepler clearly demonstrated that not only is the heliocentric model valid, but that planets move in ellipses around the Sun, many refused to accept it, instead hearkening back to the ancient idea of Ptolemy and geocentrism. From Andreas Cellarius Harmonia Macrocosmica, 1660/61.

Loon, J. van (Johannes), ca. 1611-1686

Although it isn’t well known, the idea of a heliocentric Universe goes back at least more than 2,000 years. Archimedes, writing in the 3rd century BCE, published a book called The Sand Reckoner, where he begins contemplating the Universe beyond Earth. Although he isn’t quite convinced by it, he recounts the (now lost) work of his contemporary, Aristarchus of Samos, who argued the following:

“His hypotheses are that the fixed stars and the sun remain unmoved, that the earth revolves about the sun on the circumference of a circle, the sun lying in the middle of the orbit, and that the sphere of the fixed stars, situated about the same center as the Sun, is so great that the circle in which he supposes the earth to revolve bears such a proportion to the distance of the fixed stars as the center of the sphere bears to its surface.”

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The work of Aristarchus was recognized as having great importance for two reasons that have nothing to do with heliocentrism, but nonetheless represented huge advances in the early science of astronomy.

The observed path that the Sun takes through the sky can be tracked, from solstice to solstice, . [+] using a pinhole camera. That lowest path is the winter solstice, where the Sun reverses course from dropping lower to rising higher with respect to the horizon, while the highest path corresponds to the summer solstice.

Regina Valkenborgh /

Why do the heavens appear to rotate? This was an enormous question of the time. When you look at the Sun, it appears to move through the sky in an arc each day, where that arc is a fraction of a 360° circle: about 15° each hour. The stars also move the same way, where the entire night sky seems to rotate about the Earth’s north or south pole (depending on your hemisphere) at that exact same rate. The planets and Moon do nearly the same thing, just with the tiny, extra addition of their nightly motion relative to the background of stars.

The issue is that there are two ways to account for this:

  1. The Earth is stationary, and the heavens (and everything in them) rotate about the Earth with a rotational period of 360° every 24 hours. In addition, the Moon and planets have a slight, extra motion.
  2. The stars and other heavenly bodies are all stationary, while the Earth rotates about its axis, with a rotational period of 360° every 24 hours.

If all we saw were the objects in the sky, either one of these explanations could fit the data perfectly well.

Above the central array of the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array (ALMA), the southern . [+] celestial pole can be pinpointed as the point about which the other stars all appear to rotate. The length of the streaks in the sky can be used to infer the duration of this long-exposure photograph, as a 360 degree arc would correspond to a full 24 hours of rotation. This could, in principle, be due either to the rotation of the heavens or to the rotation of the Earth.

ESO/B. Tafreshi (

And yet, practically everyone in the ancient, classical, and medieval world went with the first explanation and not the second. Was this a case of dogmatic groupthink?

Hardly. There were two major objections that were raised to the scenario of a rotating Earth, and neither one was successfully addressed until the Renaissance.

The first objection is that if you dropped a ball on a rotating Earth, it wouldn’t fall straight down from the perspective of someone standing on the Earth, but rather would fall straight down while the person on Earth moved relative to the falling ball. This was an objection that persisted through the time of Galileo, and was only resolved with an understanding of relative motion and the independent evolution of horizontal and vertical components for projectile motion. Today, many of these properties are known as Galilean relativity.

The second objection was even more severe, though. If the Earth rotated about its axis every 24 hours, then your position in space would differ by the diameter of Earth — about 12,700 km (7,900 miles) — from the start of the night to the end of the night. That difference in position should result in what we know astronomically as parallax: the shifting of closer objects relative to the more distant ones.

The concept of stellar parallax, where an observer at two different vantage points sees a foreground . [+] object shift. A parsec is defined as the distance you'd need to achieve from the Earth-Sun distance so that the 'parallax angle' shown here is 1 arc second: 1/3600th of a degree. Prior to the observation of parallax, many used the lack of one as an argument against the heliocentric model of the Solar System. It turns out, however, that the stars are just really far away.

Srain at English Wikipedia

And yet, no matter how acute your vision was, nobody had ever observed a parallax for any of the stars in the sky. If they were at different distances and the Earth was rotating, we’d expect to see the closest ones shift position from the beginning of the night to the end of the night. Despite that prediction, no parallax was ever observed for more than 1000 years.

With no evidence for the rotating Earth here at Earth’s surface, and no evidence for parallax (and hence, a rotating Earth) among the stars in the heavens, the explanation of the rotating Earth was disfavored, while the explanation of a stationary Earth and a rotating sky — or a “celestial sphere” beyond Earth’s sky — was chosen as the favored explanation.

This Foucault pendulum, on display in action at the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias de . [+] Valencia in Málaga, Spain, rotates substantially over the course of a day, knocking down various pegs (shown on the floor) as it swings and the Earth rotates. This demonstration, which makes the rotation of the Earth very clear, was only concocted in the 19th century.

The Earth does rotate, but we didn’t have the tools or the precision to make quantitative predictions for what we’d expect to see. It turns out that the Earth does rotate, but the key experiment that allowed us to see it on Earth, the Foucault pendulum, wasn’t developed until the 19th century. Similarly, the first parallax wasn’t seen until the 19th century either, owing to the fact that the distance to the stars is enormous, and it takes the Earth migrating by millions of kilometers over weeks and months, not thousands of kilometers over a few hours, for our telescopes to detect it.

The problem was that we didn’t have the evidence at hand to tell these two predictions apart, and that we conflated “absence of evidence” with “evidence of absence.” We couldn’t detect a parallax among the stars, which we expected for a rotating Earth, so we concluded that the Earth wasn’t rotating. We couldn’t detect an aberration in the motion of falling objects, so we concluded that the Earth wasn’t rotating. We must always keep in mind, in science, that the effect we’re looking for might be present just below the threshold of where we’re capable of measuring.

61 Cygni was the first star to have its parallax measured, but also is a difficult case due to its . [+] large proper motion. These two images, stacked in red and blue and taken almost exactly one year apart, show this binary star system's fantastic speed. If you want to measure the parallax of an object to extreme accuracy, you'll make your two 'binocular' measurements simultaneously, to avoid the effect of the star's motion through the galaxy.

Lorenzo2 of the forums at

Still, Aristarchus was able to make important advances. He was able to set his heliocentric ideas aside, instead using light and geometry within a geocentric framework to concoct the first method for measuring the distances to the Sun and the Moon, and hence to also estimate their sizes. Although his values were way off — mostly due to “observing” a dubious effect now known to be beyond the limits of human vision — his methods were sound, and modern data can accurately leverage Aristarchus’s methods to calculate the distances to and sizes of the Sun and Moon.

In the 16th century, Copernicus revived interest in Aristarchus’s heliocentric ideas, noting that the most puzzling aspect of planetary motion, the periodic “retrograde” motion of the planets, could be equally well-explained from two perspectives.

  1. Planets could orbit according to the geocentric model: where planets moved in a small circle that orbited along a large circle around the Earth, causing them to physically move “backwards” at occasional points in their orbit.
  2. Or planets could orbit according to the heliocentric model: where every planet orbited the Sun in a circle, and when an inner (faster-moving) planet overtook an outer (slower-moving) one, the observed planet appeared to change direction temporarily.

One of the great puzzles of the 1500s was how planets moved in an apparently retrograde fashion. . [+] This could either be explained through Ptolemy's geocentric model (L), or Copernicus' heliocentric one (R). However, getting the details right to arbitrary precision was something neither one could do.


Why do the planets appear to make retrograde paths? This was the key question. Here we had two potential explanations with vastly different perspectives, yet both were capable of producing the phenomenon that was observed. On the one hand, we had the old, prevailing, geocentric model, which accurately and precisely explained what we saw. On the other hand, we had the new, upstart (or resurrected, depending on your perspective), heliocentric model, which could also explain what we saw.

Unfortunately, the geocentric predictions were more accurate — with fewer and smaller observational discrepancies — than the heliocentric model. Copernicus could not sufficiently reproduce the motions of the planets as well as the geocentric model, no matter how he chose his circular orbits. In fact, Copernicus even started adding in epicycles to the heliocentric model to try and improve the orbital fits. Even with this ad hoc fix, his heliocentric model, although it generated a renewed interest in the problem, did not perform as well as the geocentric model in practice.

Mars, like most planets, normally migrates very slowly across the sky in one predominant direction. . [+] However, a little less than once a year, Mars will appear to slow down in its migration across the sky, stop, reverse directions, speed up and slow down, and then stop again, resuming its original motion. This retrograde period stands in contrast to the normal prograde motion.

The reason it took so long to supersede the geocentric model of the Universe, close to 2000 years, is because of how successful the model was at describing what we observed. The positions of the heavenly bodies could be modeled exquisitely using the geocentric model, in a way that the heliocentric model could not reproduce. It was only with the 17th century work of Johannes Kepler — who tossed out the Copernican assumption that planetary orbits must be reliant on circles — that led to the heliocentric model finally overtaking the geocentric one.

  • What was most remarkable about Kepler’s achievement wasn’t:
  • that he used ellipses instead of circles,
  • that he overcame the dogma or groupthink of his day,
  • or that he actually put forth laws of planetary motion, instead of just a model.

Instead, Kepler’s heliocentrism, with elliptical orbits, was so remarkable because, for the first time, an idea had come along that described the Universe, including the motion of the planets, better and more comprehensively than the previous (geocentric) model could.

Tycho Brahe conducted some of the best observations of Mars prior to the invention of the telescope, . [+] and Kepler's work largely leveraged that data. Here, Brahe's observations of Mars's orbit, particularly during retrograde episodes, provided an exquisite confirmation of Kepler's elliptical orbit theory.

Wayne Pafko, 2000 /

In particular, the (highly eccentric) orbit of Mars, which was previously the biggest point of trouble for Ptolemy’s model, was an unequivocal success for Kepler’s ellipses. Under even the most stringent of conditions, where the geocentric model had its greatest departures from what was predicted, the heliocentric model had its greatest successes. That’s often the test case: look where the prevailing theory has the greatest difficulty, and try to find a new theory that not only succeeds where the prior one fails, but succeeds in every instance where the prior one also succeeds.

Kepler’s laws paved the way for Newton’s law of universal gravitation, and his rules apply equally well to the moons of the Solar System’s planets and to the exoplanetary systems we have in the 21st century. One can complain about the fact that it took some

1800 years from Aristarchus until heliocentrism finally superseded our geocentric past, but the truth is that it until Kepler, there was no heliocentric model that matched the data and observations as well as Ptolemy’s model did.

The Muon g-2 electromagnet at Fermilab, ready to receive a beam of muon particles. This experiment . [+] began in 2017 and was planned to take data for a total of 3 years, reducing the uncertainties significantly. While a total of 5-sigma significance may be reached, the theoretical calculations must account for every effect and interaction of matter that's possible in order to ensure we're measuring a robust difference between theory and experiment.

The only reason this scientific revolution occurred at all is because there were “cracks” in the theory: where observations and predictions failed to align. Whenever this occurs, that’s where the opportunity for a new revolution may arise, but even that is not guaranteed. Are dark matter and dark energy real, or is this an opportunity for a revolution? Do the different measurements for the expansion rate of the Universe signal a problem with our techniques, or are they an early indication of potential new physics? What about non-zero neutrino masses? Or the muon’s g-2 experiment?

It’s important to explore even the most wild possibilities, but to always ground ourselves in the observations and measurements we can make. If we ever want to go beyond our current understanding, any alternative theory has to not only reproduce all of our present-day successes, but to succeed where our current theories cannot. That’s why scientists are often so resistant to new ideas: not because of groupthink, dogma, or inertia, but because most new ideas never clear those epic hurdles. Whenever the data clearly indicates that one alternative is superior to all the others, a scientific revolution is inevitably sure to follow.