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Nemesis or Tyche?

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Rumi, Sufi Poet, 1207-1273 CE A storm of controversy swirls around this subject. The recent excitement began with a science news story that went viral on the Internet, announcing that scientists J. J. Matese and Daniel Whitmire had found a “Jovian mass companion” to our Sun in the outer Solar System. If proved, the scenario is breathtaking and would be the biggest news in astronomy since Copernicus informed us that…

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Can Your Sun Sign Change?

“I know nothing with certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Vincent Van Gogh Controversy arose in January of 2011 after Parke Kunkle, an astronomy professor at Minneapolis Community & Technical College, published a short article in a local paper, announcing that the astrological signs had changed. He also mentioned a thirteenth zodiac constellation, unfamiliar to most readers, which likewise caused a considerable stir. To everyone’s sur­prise, including Kunkle, the story reverberated like a shot heard round the world. The tale morphed…

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Journey to Pluto

In July 2011, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope identified a fourth moon orbiting the icy world of Pluto, making the dwarf planet the first object in the Kuiper Belt to have more than one satellite. Temporarily dubbed P4 the tiny moon appeared in a survey searching for rings around Pluto. For now P4 is the smallest of Pluto’s moons. Since three of Pluto’s four moons have been identified in the last five years, scientists believe it’s likely more will be discovered. Charon, Pluto’s largest…

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Astrology: Saturn in Scorpio—October 2012 to September 2015

Astrology: Saturn in Scorpio—October 2012 to September 2015 The Principle of Form Enters the Arena of Pure Energy By Julie Loar   “It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”   —J.K. Rowling Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Along with Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, Saturn is classified as a gas giant. Much of what we know about Saturn came from the Voyager explorations in…

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The Galactic Alignment of 2012

We shall not cease from exploring, and at the end of our exploration, we will return to where we started and know the place for the first time.   —T. S. Elliot, Little Gidding V   The spectrum of scenarios expressed about December 21, 2012, ranges from apocalyptic “end of the world” rhetoric to the promise of a golden age or a mass ascension of humanity to a higher state of consciousness. Famous prophets and prophecies such as Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, the Hopi Blue Star,…

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Jupiter in Gemini: June 2012 – June 2013

“There are two things in life for which we are never truly prepared: twins.” —Josh Billings   Gemini, the Twins, was one of 48 constellations described by second century astronomer Ptolemy and remains one of the 88 constellations agreed upon by astronomers internationally since 1930. The name is Latin for “twins” and corresponds in myth to the famous Greek twins Castor and Pollux. Those are also the names of the two brightest stars in Gemini. Although Castor is designated as alpha, it is actually the…

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Ancient Magic—American Style

Devoted materialists scoff at the very notion of any sacred relationship between certain places on Earth and the human spirit. They denigrate the mystical experiences men and women of all races and cultures have known at such places from prehistory to modern times. Yet, these cynics are contradicted by some outstanding examples in our own country of a phenomenon long familiar to investigators of the arcane as “sympathetic magic.” The idea is that at least something of the spiritual power possessed by one object deemed…

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Haumea and Makemake

“Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”  —Pete Seeger   About two decades ago astronomers began to understand that Pluto was just the most visible member of the Kuiper Belt, a vast ring of thousands icy, rocky debris circling the outer solar system. Other small, planet-like bodies, called Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), joined the Sun’s family; and when a world named Eris was found in this region and seemed to be larger than Pluto, astronomers reluctantly decided to…

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A Comet’s Tale

Russian astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok discovered Comet ISON in September of 2012, and it bears the name of their night-sky survey program: International Scientific Optical Network. ISON is a group of observatories in ten countries organized to track objects in space. In late November, an unprecedented 80 ground-based telescopes and 16 NASA spacecraft stood ready to observe the comet’s approach toward the inner Solar System, and astronauts on board the International Space Station were also watching. Some writers predicted that ISON would be…

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Ceres, Grain & Virtue

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Airman’s Odyssey Before telescopes, astronomers defined objects in the sky as Sun, Moon, stars. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, the five planets visible to the unaided eye, moved against the backdrop of the seemingly “fixed” stars. Today, knowledge of our Solar System and beyond is expanding at an exponential rate, and the picture is more vast and complex than we ever…

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