Category Archives: astronomy

witness on Whidbey

I watched Behind the Curve (2018), a documentary about the Flat Earth movement. In the beginning, Mark Sargent says (I paraphrase), “I know the Earth is not round because I can see Seattle from here [Whidbey Island].”

If I knew the distance from the Space Needle to Sargent’s house, the altitude of that house and the altitude of the lowest part of the Space Needle visible from there, I could put an upper bound on the curvature.

calendar reform

Each month shall have 30 days, except within a lune spanning 157°15′57″ (5.242199 × 30°) of longitude, wherein the month shall be extended by one day which shall not affect the cycle of the week. The lune so affected shall shift westward(?) each month by its own width. The phase of the lune shall be such that, in every longitude, the northward equinox shall fall on the last day of March. (During a transition of roughly two years, each month shall have 30 days without leaps, to shift the equinox from March 21 to March 30/31.)

Friday thirteen come on Friday this month

Somewhere or other I recently mentioned having heard that, because the Gregorian calendar cycle of 400 years is a multiple of 7 days, the 13th of the month is not evenly distributed and falls more often on Friday than on any other day of the week; but I had not done the math myself and did not have the numbers. Now I’ve done it but can’t remember where to post the followup!

in memory

Dan Alderson once made a map of nearby stars by mounting little colored spheres on threads strung between holes in two sheets of heavy clear plastic.

It occurs to me that, taking the stars in pairs, he could use half as many threads; each would be oblique and therefore longer, but none would be twice as long as the straight threads.

Such a design would be error-prone in execution, and thread is cheap. But I think Dan would chuckle at the suggestion.