Podcaster: Dr. Al Grauer


Title: Travelers in the Night Eps. 183E & 184E: Flat Earth Society Reincarnation & Dark, Bright and Beautiful

Organization: Travelers in The Night

Link : Travelers in the Night ; @Nmcanopus

Description: Today’s two stroy:

  • The number of believers has diminished from 3,500 twenty years ago to less than a few hundred today
  • Time travel is possible. You can do it by viewing objects in the night sky. When one views Saturn at its closest point to Earth it is seen as it was some 70 minutes ago.

Bio: Dr. Al Grauer is currently an observing member of the Catalina Sky Survey Team at the University of Arizona.  This group has discovered nearly half of the Earth approaching objects known to exist. He received a PhD in Physics in 1971 and has been an observational Astronomer for 43 years. He retired as a University Professor after 39 years of interacting with students. He has conducted research projects using telescopes in Arizona, Chile, Australia, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Georgia with funding from NSF and NASA.

He is noted as Co-discoverer of comet P/2010 TO20 Linear-Grauer, Discoverer of comet C/2009 U5 Grauer and has asteroid 18871 Grauer named for him.

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183E: Flat Earth Society Reincarnation

More than 2000 years ago an Egyptian astronomer, Eratosthenes, came up with a method to measure the circumference of the Earth to a accuracy rivaling that of modern scientific instruments.  He used the fact that on the summer solstice at noon the Sun was directly overhead in the city of Syene while at the same instant in Alexandria, which he assumed to be directly to the north of Syene, he measured the Sun’s direction to be 1/50th of a circle from the vertical. He correctly assumed that the Earth is spherical and that the Sun is very far away.  Multiplying the distance between the two cities by 50 he calculated the Earth’s circumference. If we use Eratosthenes’s method with more accurate data, the circumference obtained is within 1/4 of a percent of the best accepted modern value.

In the 1800’s the English writer Samuel Rowbotham published a 430 page book entitled “The Earth is Not A Globe” . He hypothesized that the Earth is a flat disk centered on the north pole.  At the edge of the disk the world ends in an Antarctic wall of ice.

In spite of the shape of the Earth’s shadow on the Moon, sailing ships disappearing below the horizon, satellite photographs, orbiting objects, and a mountain of other information about the size and shape of the Earth there are still people who belong a flat Earth Society and even have websites. The number of believers has diminished from 3,500 twenty years ago to less than a few hundred today.

Not to worry the Flat Earth Society is being replaced by the Climate Change Deniers.

184E: Dark, Bright and Beautiful

Recent evenings of astronomical viewing at the Cosmic Campground in Southwestern New Mexico started with a riveting view of the planet Saturn as it chased the Sun into the western twilight.  The brilliant ring system about this distant planet has delighted and fascinated humans since they were first observed by Galileo Galilei more than 400 years ago.  

Far from artificial lighting , as the glow from the setting Sun fades, stars pop out a purple velvet dome of the darkening sky.  The Milky Way becomes visible in twilight, grows in prominence, and finally reaches its full glory an hour or so after sunset.

Time travel is possible.  You can do it by viewing objects in the night sky.  When one views Saturn at its closest point to Earth it is seen as it was some 70 minutes ago. The light from bright star Vega takes one back in time some 25 years since that is the length of time it takes for this star’s light to reach us.

The Great Galaxy in Andromeda or M31 as it is also known is one of the furtherest objects that can be seen with the unaided human eye.  It is about two and a half million light years away.  More than a thousand years ago the a Persian astronomer named Al-Sufi described the Great Galaxy in Andromeda as a “small cloud” in his  Book of Fixed Stars. Now there are few places on planet Earth like the Cosmic Campground where one can see it with the naked eye due to inappropriate night time lighting. 

A few hours spent under the natural night sky allows one to explore some of the mysteries of what it is to be human.

For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer

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