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Brightest Moon Fallacy 286

theLunchLady writes "Unfortunately, on 22 December 1999 we will not behold the brightest moon in 133 years. An article in Sky and Telescope dispels this myth. BTW: the story about the American Indians conducting a raid under this moon 133 years ago, because it was so bright, is also a myth; the raid was conducted while that big fiery thing was in the sky. " While I'm unqualified to comment on both comments, I'm sure some of you have comments.
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Brightest Moon Fallacy

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  • Don't forget, one of the manned moon missions left a mirror up there, on the light side. (If you believe that it wasn't filmed in Studio 51, that is.) I'm sure that it increases the moon's albedo by some non-integer percentage!

    Of course, that assumes that a maid comes by to dust every week. Nevermind.


  • Well, I'd like to think most people here aren't
    that gullible, but p'raps they got a number of
    submissions about this.
    I know I've read a few comments in other
    articles bringing it up already.
    I'm still waiting for it to cross my spool...
    Merry Christmas...
  • by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @09:54AM (#1455492)
    Last night/this morning I woke up and thought "Wow, that moon really is bright", and went over to the window. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was my neighbor putting up Christmas lights, with the help of a 500 watt halogen work light aimed right at my window.
  • The world could end, the moon is bright, Clinton asks crackers to play nice...
    jeez, what a strange way to end a year. (I omit mention of the millenium to avoid dumb flames about the milleniums true end next year.)
    My real worry is my co-worker who decided to spend the Holidays in Venezuela with his wife's family. I haven't heard from him yet. I'm not too worried yet as net access has to be pretty bad down there (especially during a disaster). Well, I'll pray to the extra bright moon or whatever.

  • by lyonsj ( 51249 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @09:54AM (#1455494)
    As the article points out, the moon will still be at perigee (closest point in its orbit to the Earth) and it will be about 19% brighter than usual. To most of the people (who have received this email, and I know I've gotten it seven times so far) looking at the moon, this will not make a big difference. Full moons are always bright, and so they might *think* it's a lot brighter and then not bother to look next month to compare. Personally I observe the moon every month (leftover habit from astronomy classes) and I have noticed the slight difference, but yeah, it doesn't merit the bandwidth that's been wasted on this.

    I still think it's neat to have a full moon on the Winter Solstice, though :)
  • by Malachi ( 5716 ) <andy.ciordia@info> on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @09:54AM (#1455495) Homepage Journal
    I didn't get the news by any email'd farmers almanac. I read it in last months issue of Discover.. now I'm not going to say they didn't pick up the scent somewhere, but another accredited agency has the other side.

    You choose who you want to believe.


  • Hehhehe - Ooops! I messed up on this one too - I took it at face value, and passed the same info on to my fiance. After all the times I've told people to check the facts before forwarding information, I end up doing it myself. *SIGH* Oh well...

    But, even if it isn't the brighest moon, it's still kinda cool that it's an event that won't occur again for a while (the entire set of events occuring in a 10 hour span) and hasn't occured in quite a while. Just happens to be there's nothing interesting to really watch...

    Midnight Ryder [midnightryder.com]
  • I'd like to hear someone give a convincing argument that the Apollo missions were filmed in a studio. There's plenty of evidence that it was a real misson. There's lots of stuff on the surface of the moon - mirrors and scientific equipment, for example. Pictures from the moon, moon dust. A capsule full of dusty astronauts reentering Earth's atmosphere. Think of the thousands of people who would have to be involved. I just don't buy it.

    I don't believe everything that NASA says, however. I'm convinced that these probes for Mars were in fact military satellites destined for Earth orbit.
  • Speaking of that mirror, I just saw a Discovery/Learning Channel thingy called something like "What if there were no moon?" I can't remember the specifics, I was a little inebriated at the time, but it was a damn cool show.

    Anyhoo, to get to the meat of my comment, the show tells us that the moon is moving away from the earth at a rate of about an inch or so a year. Could it be possible that NASA is testing their new laser propulsion system on the moon and pushing it away from us? ;)
  • by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @09:58AM (#1455499)
    From Sky and Telescope: "Most people won't notice a thing, despite the e-mail chain letter that implies we'll see something amazing."

    Call me cynical, but I bet that most people who've gotten the email will see that the Moon is brighter than usual ... because they expect to. Humans are notoriously poor observers, and will often see what they expect to see, whether it's there or not.

    On the plus side, maybe a few more people will remember to look up. Maybe it's partly because I live in a city, but sometimes I think I'm one of the few people who ever notices the sky.

  • Okay, the article says that the high and low tides are going to be a bit extreme because of the three events, but it doesn't say how much. 25% higher/lower than normal? An extreme neap tide?

    Or am I just semi-paranoid?
  • by meckardt ( 113120 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @09:59AM (#1455501) Homepage

    Okay, maybe this isn't going to be the brightest moon of all time. I'm sure that the original information upon which the story that this refers to never claimed it would be. However, for those of us who are blessed with a clear sky tonight, the full moon should be brighter than we typically experience during a normal month.

    As far as stories of secret indian attacks carried out by the bright light of the full moon, it is about as plausable as the story about the Space Shuttle size being dictated by Roman Chariot wheel spacing. Sure, it sounds like a neat explaination, but that doesn't make it right. I'm not qualified to say whether its wrong.

    Regardless of the relative brightness of this full moon, I doubt if I will get to see it, based on the local weather. Anyway, this isn't the full moon I care about. Its Next Month's full moon that is something to look at. That is when we get to see a Total Lunar Eclipse. This event occurs on the evening of January 20, between about 9:30 pm EST and 2:30 am EST., with totality lasting from 78 minutes between about 11:00 pm EST and 12:20 am EST. Be sure not to miss this one, because we won't see another one in the us until May 16, 2003.

    Mike Eckardt [geocities.com] meckardt@spam.yahoo.com
  • Is it just me or is anybody else sick of all of the supersticious goo and various other scare mongering flying about just before all four digits in the Christian year flip?

    Isn't this just another symptom of rampant Milleniophobia? No matter how much it's debunked by Science, the supersticious apolcalyptophiles will still stick to their supersticions like flies to tape.



    PS: What disappointed me most is that the nuclear waste dump on the Moon's Far Side didn't blow up in September after all. Moonbase Alpha is still safe.
  • by DanaL ( 66515 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @10:02AM (#1455503)
    I haven't recieved the Full Moon Forward yet. I feel so isolated and lonely :)

    On the other hand, I have recieved Elf Bowling *seven* times, The Elf-Bowling-Is-A-Virus thing twice, and Christmas Carols for the Mentally Deficient 4 times.

    I think junk email distribution patterns would make an interesting area of study for Information Theorists :)

  • The Toronto Star [thestar.com] for a slightly better report. At least the Star figured out the last real bright moon first, and so was correctly reporting 69 years.


  • Could it be possible that NASA is testing their new laser propulsion system on the moon and pushing it away from us? ;)

    Assuming you weren't joking, going to the Moon to try that out would cost hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars more than just to do it in Earth orbit.
  • How am I supposed to sacrifice my goats to the god reatsintpeont now that the celestial brightening will not commmence tomorrow...oh well..they're taking care of the garbage in my yard pretty well....i guess I'll leave them there.
    Until next time....then the celestial provocation shall commence! All shall fall to my feet!

    I'm serious. No, really, I am.....*snicker* DAMN! oh well. I guess you know the truth now.
  • At least it's a lot easier to believe than "forward this to 50 of your friends and Bill Gates and Walter Disney Jr will give you $5k cash and a trip to Disney World" or "forward this to 90 people and get a free Honda Civic."
  • by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @10:06AM (#1455509) Homepage
    What amazes me is how people continually will believe anything they find in their inbox or on a web page. Our parents, our friends, even the news media (does anyone remember the Arizona news station that reported on a "Good Times"-like virus warning they got in their mailbox?)

    It seems so obvious, but so many people are led to believe that if it's in print and sounds semi-official, it must be true. People believe unless they have a reason to doubt, and on the net you don't survive unless you do it the other way around.
  • Someone tried to convince me that this was true today by arguing, 'Well, the moon is going to be really close to the earth and the sun's going to be directly behind it.' Hrm, sounds to me that it would be day if the sun was in the sky.. It's funny hearing how people get mislead and everything just propagates. Wish this got posted last night ;)

    A few folks said they heard it was going to be possible to drive without their headlights since the moon was going to be oh-so-bright... Let's watch for an increase in accidents ;)

    Oh well, we all know that night's when the sun goes to sleep anyway - 's why NASA's planning their Sun Polar Observer mission to land during the night...

  • The brightness will also be from Santa giving his test run about the sky. He'll probably be going about in his excercise clothes, shorts and tank-top. Due to the cold at the north pole, Santa will be white as a ghost, and make an excellent reflective surface to add the extra bit of brightness.

  • This is easy.

    There was a movie starring OJ Simpson called "Capricorn One." It showed that it was possible to explain the moon landing as a Hollywood production. By Occam's Razor, we shouldn't add unnecessary complexity to our explanations if we don't have to. Why in the world would we need to introduce huge 30 story rockets, crazy moon cars, and a lunar lander that looks like a bug into the explanation? The simplest explanation is that the whole thing was filmed in Arizona.

    Probably the most unbelievable thing is that they expect us to believe that we'd spend so much money and 3 guys would risk their lives just to show some silly Russians that we're better than them. I mean come on people! The Russians are our friends! We've been friends with Eurasia, er, I mean Russia for centuries now!

  • My mom keeps sending me the Elf Bowling thing (even though I tell her that my system can't run it (It said Windows 95 or better, so in theory Linux should run it (English should support nested parens))). Is it a virus or a virus hoax? Last thing I need is my Mom calling me up at 12:01 on 01/01/1900 telling me her computer has the Y2K virus.
  • ...but doesn't the article then go on to say that it *will* be the brightest full moon in 69 years (since 1930)?

    So, it's not a *total* non-event.
  • Some people just don't have a complete grasp on the depths of profound sarcasm. Or, in some cases, not-so-profound, bluntly posed sarcasm.
  • Why would any one have a raid under a bright moon? Did they want someone to catch them? I know the indians were much smarter then that. If we believe this then we are much more gullible then we get credit for.
  • um...what's with the chronic posts about how "perl sucks" and "tc shoves ____ up his ass"? i've never met him myself, but i would, honestly, like to know what the deal is. is he really that big of an @55#013 ??? and what the hell is your beef with perl? you're obviously on some kind of mission...so what is it that you're *for*?
  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @10:16AM (#1455521) Homepage
    See, I saw the e-mail and thought, 'Wow, what a funky hoax!' But then I realized that the e-mail is partially true. What's really the fact here is that this is indeed (at least in the northern hemisphere) going to be the darkest night. Why? Well, the night will be the longest of the year and thus, darkness will have a chance to soak in and penetrate everything. Couple this with a new moon and the moon becomes even brighter, because as everyone knows, light objects on a dark field are lighter than the same shade object on a lighter field (it's a perception thing). Thus, it's really about the darkest night of the year.

    As for the Indians, I thought the US's Thanksgiving was last month.
  • I still think it's neat to have a full moon on the Winter Solstice, though :)

    i'm with you there. the nakedness is entirely optional.
  • The guy has a +1 bonus for having a high karma.

    I do to, but I always turn it off.....
  • I think junk email distribution patterns would make an interesting area of study for Information Theorists :)

    Oh great, the next one just started.
    'This is part of a study looking at junk e-mail flow in modern society, please forward this on to whoever you usually forward this crap too.'


  • The email is from just one guy who says he set the date to Dec 25, rebotted and his computer went down.

    I've got counter emails from people saying it it's a hoax, and I haven't heard anything from CERT, Norton or McAfee, so I am assuming it is safe.

    The email probably comes from a bitter, disgruntled player who kept getting lousy scores :)

  • As the article states: "Ocean tides will be exceptionally high and low that day" read the article -- THEN post. sorta like pull down your pants -- THEN take the dump.
  • +1 Moderation (Funny)

    ... if only I could ...

    I wonder if anyone will give you an "Informative" bonus for the tidbit about Sun Polar Observer landing at night....


  • By Occam's Razor, we shouldn't add unnecessary complexity to our explanations if we don't have to

    Your kidding right?

    BTW, one of the main "arguers" for this view was a certain Mr. Andrew Kaufman. (Part of the reason for the name of the movie.) However it turned out to be one of his hoaxes. (IE. he didn't believe it himself.)
  • by DanaL ( 66515 )
    Oh great, the next one just started. 'This is part of a study looking at junk e-mail flow in modern society, please forward this on to whoever you usually forward this crap too.'

    I guess I'm going to hell now (if you're right, I'll deserve it!) :)

  • Welcome, newbie. People who have posted good comments in the past, giving them a high "Karma", which makes their posts start at +2 by default. It's possible to check a box that makes your comment start at +1 anyway, but IMHO that should only be used when replying to an offtopic comment, like I'm doing now.
    If that comment is really unworthy of a +2, the moderators will sort it out. Okay?

  • heh.
    and lo,
    the lion did lay down with the lamb.
    the hacker with the sysadmin.
  • your unqualified?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @10:28AM (#1455538)
    If you've been amused to see this and other email chain-letters mutate and reproduce - propagating in spite of their bullshitical nature - you might want to look into the emerging science of memetics [lycaeum.org] and how it is applied to urban legends [lycaeum.org] and to chain [vub.ac.be] letters [silcom.com] .

    It is easier to understand the proliferation of messages that communicate ideas that are contrary to the intent of their proliferators (in other words, people think they're spreading legitimate information but in fact are talking crap) if you see these communications as the result of natural selection rather than conscious creation.

    It's the same principle that has allowed us to make much more sense out of the natural world by trying to understand it as the product of evolution, rather than trying to interpret it as the residue of God's Plan.

  • <semi-shameless plug>and a really cool thing about that, is that 20jan is also my (along w/ 1/365th (or about) of the world's population) birthday, too .... just kinda cool</semi-shameless plug>

    sorry for wasting the bandwidth on a semi-shameless plug

  • Replying to my own post, how chic.

    According to http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIAC Hoaxes.html#elfbowling [llnl.gov] it is a hoax, and my mother can go on enjoying life to its fullest, thanks to shockwave games.
  • alright...no i *REALLY* have to know. is he just a complete narcicistic pr*ck? what happened when you met him (however many times that may be)?

    and what do you use for all of your administrative tasks? shell code? batch files? [GACK! just kidding aobut that one...hehehe.]

    i'm just curious...i've been up to my neck in perl code lately & to hear it so heinously denounced peaked my interest.....
  • Is it just me or is anybody else sick of all of the supersticious goo and various other scare mongering flying about just before all four digits in the Christian year flip?

    I could easily be wrong, but I'm not sure there's any more silliness than usual. Maybe you're just noticing it more because you're expecting it, and The Millenium is an easy thing to pin it on?

    [shrug] Or maybe you're right. But it's hard to know for sure.

  • Gee, maybe he was just using the convention that the "light side" is the side tidally locked towards the earth and the "dark side" isn't.

    Gee, maybe that's it. Considering even NASA has used that terminology. Hell one of my Astronomy Profs used it when I was in college.

    I think you might want to cut down on the speed... err, coffee.
  • As for the Indians, I thought the US's Thanksgiving was last month.

    It was, but we let them off the reservation for an entire month now.

  • by Spud Zeppelin ( 13403 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @10:36AM (#1455545)
    For those of you who don't know, Excite [excite.com] lets you add tide tables as part of their customization. This is what mine currently looks like:

    Old Saybrook Point, Connecticut Tides
    December 21
    Low3:25PM -0.50
    December 22
    Low3:23AM -0.31
    Low4:23PM -0.58

    These don't appear to be all THAT unusual to me at all....

    This is my opinion and my opinion only. Incidentally, IANAL.
  • I used to be one of those people that said the true end of the millennium is next year, but that got too popular, so I now point out that the second millennium probably came to pass several years ago, due to errors made in adjusting the calendar. I believe that errors happenned somtime in the 12 or 1300's, but am not quite sure. Anyone have the full story?
  • Yes, it will be brighter, but only 7% brighter than when the moon is FARTHEST AWAY! Which we hardly ever see anyway. Thus it will actuallu appear about 3-4% brighter. You think you could tell the difference?

    Also it is noted that it will appear 14% "bigger", but they dont tell you bigger than what. It appear to have a suraface area 14% larger than if it were at the FARTHEST POINT AWAY from the earth. Still, this means an actually "growth" of maybe 7-8%

    Doing the math in my head an thinking its correct, this translates to AT MOST a 5% increase in the width of the moon. Again, do you think you could tell?

    It's like that psychology test where the subjects say that thier lemonade is "twice as sweet" only after 16x the amount of sweetener is added. Simply put, we wont be able to tell.
  • Yaaay for Canadian news sources :) I'm waving to the Star people right now .. excellent people all of them :)
  • You are probably correct about the albedo being increased by the mirror (to an insignifigant amount). I doubt however it will be increased in our direction, but towards the sun.

    The mirror that was left behind was a special kind made up of individual triangles that were attached at right angles to each other. Thus every 3 mirror triangles form a tri-right angle reflector. (If you have a bicycle, take a close look at the reflectors, you will see little pyrimids and valleys made of plastic, composed of triangles, this is the same thing.)

    The remarkable thing about this is that the mirror when made in this way is that it always returns light to its point of origin, despite the angle that it hits the mirrors from. A laser was aimed at the moon, and the reflection could be detected. Hence the exact distance to the moon could be measured.

    (Due to scattering of the photons, the laser while about 1mm in diameter on earth was about 1 Mile on the moon. Not important but neat nonetheless!)

    Now, the albedo has probably gone up due to reflections from right where YOU are, but if the place that you happen to be is emitting no light (hightly unlikely, must be VERY cold eh? :) The moons albedo will not have increased.

  • It's a hoax. Look at

    http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/y2kga me.hoax.html

    My guess is that someone noticed that the game tries to connect to the internet when the player wants to save the high score, & assumed the worst. I've played it enough times to seriously doubt that it's a trojan -- it's just a cheesy & fun little game.

    You can also follow the thread in alt.comp.virus, too -- although last I looked it had degenerated into a flamewar.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    > The end times were prophesied ages ago, and I firmly believe that we are living in them. Firmly enough to send me a signed contract assigning your worldly belongs to me as of 1/1/2001? After all, if you're right, you won't be needing them... Let's see you put your money where your mouth is.
  • There was a really good (imho) fantasy book by terry goodkind, published by tor, called wizard's first rule , which covered this fairly well.

    the titchler phrase described the wizard's first rule as something similar to (i can't remember exactly) "people are stupid. they will believe anything they are told, so long as they have a reason to believe it, or even simply no reason not to believe it, or even if they are afraid it might be true" or something along those lines

    i'm sure someone else out there has read these, so if you have the time (i have to leave for work here in a sec), someone might want to look it up and post the actual phrase .... ta ta

  • Oops. I guess a better way to put that would be
    Instead of "tidally locked towards the earth."
    put "faces the earth during most of the normal lunar cycle."

    Thank you....
  • Possibly they use "dark" as in unknown since until this century no one had seen that side. Kind of like they used to refer to the deep jungles of Africa as "Dark Africa". It is still sometimes referred to as the "Dark Continent", even though it receives it's fair share of sunlight.
  • Humans are poor observers? Are you not human? You are Devo!

    [grin] I am human, and as a result I'm generally a poor observer. But it helps a little that I'm aware of it. Most people are under the delusion that they're good observers, and so they don't have any clue how many mistakes they make.

    (And don't even get me started about poor reading skills and lack of basic reasoning ability! Argh!)

  • I just want to say, "thanks," for actually using a more than marginally accurate stating of Occam's Razor. (And, for that matter, illustrating exactly how difficult it can be to determine what "necessary complexity" is - is a conspiracy of that nature more complex than a rocket? - especially when you are mistakenly applying Occam's Razor to human motivation.)
  • by EricWright ( 16803 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @10:45AM (#1455558) Journal
    It is a common misconception that the winter solstice is on the day that the Earth is at perihelion (closest approach to the Sun). Actually, even more common is the belief is that the winter solstice is the day that the Earth is *farthest* from the Sun, but that's another matter.

    Anyway, "Perihelion Day" is actually sometime around the second or third of January (S&T's skygazer's almanac can tell you). This puts the Earth-Moon system closest to the Sun. The closer to a luminous object you are, the more of that object's light impacts your surface.

    During a full moon, the moon is directly opposite of the Sun (from Earth's point of view). The day in which the bodies line up Sun-Earth-Moon (ie. full moon) on which the Moon subtends the largest solid angle of the Gaussian sphere centered on the Sun is on "Perihelion Day". Making the assumption that the Moon's albedo is constant (a pretty good one), this is the set of circumstances that will maximize the amount of reflected sunlight from the Lunar surface.

    Thus, I believe the guys at Sky & Tel. After all, Discover is a general science/technology magazine. S&T specialize in this stuff.

  • Discover? Yeah, there's a reliable source for ya...

    And the National Enquirer told me that if you look real close you'll be able to see the face of Princess Di and JFK Jr's love child on the surface of the moon.


    I gave my boss a reality check. It bounced.

  • You are confused on who the newbie is. Look at your user number, then look at mine.

    Karma is one of the reasons I hate the 'new' slashdot. Now days I only check it when someone tells me there is something worth reading.

    Sadly thats not very often.
  • I've got counter emails from people saying it it's a hoax, and I haven't heard anything from CERT, Norton or McAfee, so I am assuming it is safe.

    It's a hoax. I got it too. Symantec has a write-up [symantec.com] on it.

  • Hmmm... well, let's see... The universe, strangely enough, does seem to have an order to it, at least in the way celestial objects move.

    Oh, and calendars are generally based on lunar happenings, celestial ocurrences, etc.

    Why does this culmination surprise you? Why would even a coincidence surprise you?
  • Well, I'd imagine that the marshes are going to be nice and flooded, and Great Hammock Rd's gonna have that huge puddle by the town beach. :]
  • I'm glad I didn't get this news any sooner! I talked my wife into letting me open my Christmas present, a Meade DS 114 EC [discovery.com], early, so I'd have time to assemble and get used to using it, before the 22nd! So it wasn't all a loss! (Although she may make me pack it back up now :( )
  • by M. Piedlourd ( 68092 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @11:01AM (#1455573)
    Not since 1866 have a full moon, the winter solstice, and lunar perigee been bunched so closely in time, within ten hours of each other. The Earth, the sun, and the moon will be in a straight line and the moon will be in perigee, circumstances that produce the highest tides.

    The situation is called a perigean syzgy, and it has dramatically affected weather patterns in coastal areas in the past. Storms that reach the coast during these times of unusually high tides have been known to cause sizable storm surges.

    But it'll still be pretty bright...
  • by Lurker187 ( 127055 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @11:26AM (#1455591)
    "To the average person, it's just going to be another full moon," said Bob Bonadurer, director of the Minneapolis Planetarium.

    That is from an excellent debunking and explanation of this e-mail, which can be found here [simplenet.com], at the Urban Legends Reference Pages [simplenet.com], an excellent source of well-researched debunking. (I was a couple of days shy of being the first one to debunk the violent kangaroo myth [simplenet.com].)

    Apparently, the last time the moon was at perigee during the full moon was...last month. It just wasn't the solstice.

    Like I said, whoop. Dee. Doo. (I'll have to at least take a look anyway...I actually set my alarm to get up in the middle of the night to watch the Leonid meteor shower, which turned out to be a total bust.)

  • by Foogle ( 35117 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @11:34AM (#1455601) Homepage
    Actually, I'm at the UC San Diego talking to Professor Jakobson right now. He's the head of the astronomy department here, and tells me that the moon tomorrow will, in fact, be naked and petrifiend. There is also a slight chance that it may pour scolding-hot grits down it's pants. The Romans first witnessed this event and called it "Natalie Portman" -- today we know it as "Meept".


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • >A few folks said they heard it was going to be possible to drive without their headlights since the moon was going to be oh-so-bright... Let's watch for an increase in accidents ;)

    Reminds of the Red Hat IPO last summer. On that day, people around here drove with their headlights on at noon, in order to celebrate this earthshaking event. No accidents though, but quite a few traffic jams.

  • by EyesOfNostradamus ( 75825 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @11:44AM (#1455607) Homepage
    Strange that you mention this. During the solar eclipse last summer, there was that bizarre cult built around a strange piece of computer software. The members of this cult did exactly that: many signed away most of their life savings to an obscure startup in North Carolina. Some even got upset when said startup wouldn't accept their pagan gifts.
  • Man, do I ever wish I could still moderate this discussion. (+1, Funny), indeed.
  • The error occurred in the 6th Century. Calendar research was done by the Church to solve the practical problem of calculating the beginning (and end) of Lent. Easter was celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the equinox. Because the season of Lent began 45 days before Easter, they needed to know this in advance. This mixing of solar and lunar calendars makes the calculation difficult. A 532 year cycle made the calculation easier. The year 532 A.D. was set at the end of such a cycle and the year 1 A.D. was inferred. It took several hundred years before the system was widely adopted. The Venerable Bede (8th c.) knew that the system did not give the right date for the birth of Christ, but thought that trying to fix it wold cause more problems than letting it slide.

    There is more in the Brittanica article on the calendar [britannica.com].

    The true end of "the millennium" really depends on which millennium is "the" millennium. Any period of 1,000 years is a millennium. The 2nd millennium A.D. ends on 12/31/2000. The millennium of four year dates beginning with 1 ends on 12/31/1999.

  • Why don't you go hide in the woods with the other nuts and eat your K-rations. The rest of us will live our lives realizing that there is no special significance to the year 2000. Keep in mind that: A. historians are in universal agreement that Jesus of Nazereth was NOT born 2000 years ago...but somewhere between 2002 and 2006 years ago. The bible says he was born during the reign of Herod...and Herod died 2002 years ago. So we already passed the 2000th anniversary of his birth. B. It is only the year 2000 for Christians. It is 57??-something for Jews and god-knows-what for the Chinese. For more than half of the world's population this year has no significance whatsoever. Christians like yourself have such a Christian-centric view of the world that they have lost their ability to think rationally. Hell....half the Christians I know think it's blasphemy to say that Jesus was a non-white Jew. The 'events' that you are giving such significance to are no more prevalent this year than in years past...you are just noticing them more because you are a flaky religious nut who has been looking for signs of the apocalypse ever since the day you were "born-again".
  • by Tower ( 37395 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @11:52AM (#1455615)
    Photons are just a fake concept to hide the truth from the common man. Light is just the absence of dark. Dark is spread by sub-atomic particles called "darktrons", and the effects you observe are easily explained. What we know as "lights" are really only darktron suckers. They remove the darktrons in a straight line from where they are. This is why you can put a piece of wood between you and the "light", and it is darker on your side - you are creating a dam for the darktrons. The "bending of light" effect is also explained by darktrons. The sucking power of these "lights" (notably the Sun) is strong enough to even pull some darktrons from around corners, which creates an slightly curvi-linear pattern. This is just another conspiracy by "The Man" and his white-lab-coated minions to deprive us all of the truth!!!

    So his comment about dark "soaking in" is perfectly ok - since the darktrons take time to replenish - in super slow motion you can actually see the dark making its way back towards the "light"... foolish mortals

  • by Zombieman ( 128522 ) on Tuesday December 21, 1999 @11:53AM (#1455616)
    Yes, the moon will be 20% brighter than it has been in the last 60-odd years. This would be all the more interesting if the human eye reacted to light linearly, rather than logarithmically. (1/5th brighter... wow! Right? nope...)

    The moon has a "normal" magnitude (estimated brightness the eye perceives) of about -16.9 (the smaller the number, the brighter the object; the sun is magnitude -26.8).

    Increasing that by 20% - heck, let's be generous, 30% - gives us a difference in magnitude of roughly .3 (mA - mB = - 2.5 log (IA/IB)).

    So the apparent change in the moon's brightness - in its magnitude - will be from -16.9 to -17.2. This difference IS linear, so I'll let you do the math - not one heck of a difference, and not really enough to be seen with the naked eye.

    Just thought I'd clarify :-)
  • Everybody put in everything that they own and the ones that don't get raptured get to split the pot.

    If you ask me, I'm not gullible enough to believe that all of this is some sort of fantastically remote coincidence. Absolutely not. The end times were prophesied ages ago, and I firmly believe that we are living in them.

    Really, people have been convinced that they're in the End Times in every generation for way more than 2,000 years. The "signs" you point to are just coincidences. An arbitrary number of "unusual" events will occur within any arbitrary time span if you have enough potential "unusual" events to choose from. Earthquakes, mudslides and random celestial events happen all of the time. Remember Odd Day [slashdot.org]?
  • Then now would be a good time to go to http://www.qnx.com/~glen/deadbeef/1897. html [qnx.com] or http://www.hmrs.org.uk/fourfoot.htm [hmrs.org.uk] or http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/pkt/f eb98/0556.html [colorado.edu].

    As for the Space Shuttle size, that one's rarer, but basically it goes on to say that because the SRBs (they're called something else, now, I think, but they're the long widgets that get it off the ground. not cranes) are transported by rail (they are!) through rail tunnels (probably) they are therefore only slightly wider than the rails (inasmuch as 12' is slightly wider than 5', yeah, I'll buy that) and therefore mankinds first method of transportation (horse's ass) determined important details of his most advanced (space shuttle). All very stupid.
  • I guess you are as incoherent when you wake up as I am. After all, normally, any eyestrain associated with reading by the light of the moon should be the result of poor contrast in low light rather than the painful dazzling that transfixes many a woodland animal. Just a hint, if the "moon" has a twin, and makes a sound even vaguely similar to your neighbor's 4x4, go with your instinct and dive for cover.
  • I guess I need to continuing putting my disclaimer on my posts ...

    NOTE: This post not for the humor (or humour) impaired

    And now, to bring this slightly back on topic ...

    "Hehe .. he said 'moon'."
  • The Venerable Bede was obviously concerned about:

    >cal 1 750
    January 750
    Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa


    But he was wrong to be concerned - no one complains about:

    >cal 9 1752
    September 1752
    Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
    1 2 14 15 16
    17 18 19 20 21 22 23
    24 25 26 27 28 29 30


    Foolish Bede.
  • There is one thing that the full moon at perigee provides, and that is an opportunity to photograph the full moon when it appears at its largest in the sky. Then the same photographic arrangement can be used in six months to capture the full moon at close to its smallest in the sky. If you then place the two photographs together side-by-side, the 10% size difference between the perigee full moon and the apogee full moon will be noticeable.
  • how typical of a rich suburban porch honky to proclaim that we do not and never have existed...and do so as an "anonymous coward".

    more apropriately, you should have posted as "INSECURE WHITE BITCH".

    i knew once i saw this irrelevant story & it's mention of my people that some little culturally-deprived BOAT PERSON would try, yet again, to convince the world that we never existed so that YOU DON'T HAVE TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT NATIVE TO THIS CONTINENT. "scientists" have been trying for decades to convince the world to believe in the theory that we 'migrated' to this continent centuries ago from asia. too bad that theory is a load of shit. try reading "red earth, white lies" by vine deloria & you might start *admitting* that you've been lyed to all of your life, instead of passing on the tradition. your boat people predecessors came to this country to seek religious & political freedom from the cesspool that europe had become - even your history books don't deny that fact; but what happened was that they choose to persecute OUR ways of life. never mind the fact that the basic concepts of the u.s. constitution, which "give" you your way of life to this day, were based on the ideals of the iroquois. you can also forget the fact that if it weren't for MY PEOPLE, you wouldn't BE HERE...THAT'S WHY "THANKSGIVING" EXISTS: BECAUSE THE 'PILGRIMS' WERE ALMOST DEAD FROM STARVATION AND COULD NOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO OBTAIN FOOD WITH OUT DOMESTICATED ANIMALS AND LABORED CROPS...but we helped them.

    only to have them turn on us and act like we never existed.

    it's people like you that that this world would be better without. i try as hard as i can to see others as *people*, not *skin*. but when i hear sheltered ignorance spewed out as if it were fact, i cannot help but to lash out.

    maybe i shouldn't, though. after all- you really just are another pathetic product of what uncle sam wants you to be. of course there is barely any mention of us in your history books. why would he want you to know that this country was founded on theft, deceit, murder, rape, greed and corruption? we *all* know that that is exactly what runs the country today, but you never hear the government (in any form) admitting it, do you? no. so why is it so hard for you to realize that while society has made great advances, human nature never changes? those that kill and steal to gain power are not going to admit to the uninvolved (the little people- like you & me) that they ever did so.

    put down "the white man's bible" and pick up any book by vine deloria. pick up "bury my heart at wounded knee" by dee brown. read "in the spirit of crazy horse" by peter mattiessen. but i must warn you: you just might end up being ashamed of what you stand for right now. because you'll actually learn some of the brutal truth about "how the west was won", and how my people were slaughtered so that yours could fill thier pockets with yellow metal.

    ...now back to my hacking.
  • I for one know hundreds of Christians, and not a one believes the crap you just accused them of believing.

    I do too. Many of them can also read English. Reread what he wrote and then try again, Sparky:

    Is it just me or is anybody else sick of all of the supersticious goo and various other scare mongering flying about just before all four digits in the Christian year flip?

    Isn't this just another symptom of rampant Milleniophobia? No matter how much it's debunked by Science, the supersticious apolcalyptophiles will still stick to their supersticions like flies to tape.

    He didn't say the people going around spreading this were Christians. He merely stated that the years were Christian years. And then he talked about "supersticious apolcalyptophiles." No mention of actual Christians there.

  • why didn't Hitler wipe out these goddamned xians off the face of the planet? fuck these bible fuckers.

    Probably because he was too busy going after the Jews. He was a "Christian" too, you know. He did, AFAIK, also persecute/imprison/kill a good amount of Catholics, but nowhere near the scale to which he persecuted/imprisioned/killed Jews.

  • The earth-luna system is *not* a tidy little two-body problem where every player always follows the same orbit. It's not even a pure three-body problem since any real solution must account for the earth's equatorial and tidal bulges (although they are often time-averaged into a single bulge).

    On earth, we get our angle of inclination bobbing around between 22-24 degrees (approx) *and* slowly drifting around the entire sky over tens of thousands of years. We also get slow changes of the earth's orbit due to the other planets; many people believe these changes are directly related to the ice ages.

    On luna, it gets an orbit which oscillates between nearly circular and slightly elliptical, all while slowly moving away from the earth as energy is lost raising the earth's tidal bulges. (Remember: less total energy = a *higher* orbit due to the tradeoff of kinetic energy for gravitational potential energy. It's only hard for us because we're coming up from the planetary surface and have no KE.)

    All of this means that lunar perigees are not created equal and the perigee tonight is *not* the same as the perigee last month or a perigee a month from now.

    More generally, the perigee is solely a function of the earth-luna system and a full moon is solely a function of the sun-earth system -- there is absolutely no connection between perigees and full moons. This means that perigees and full moons occuring at the same time are a statistical fluke - you're just as likely to have a new moon and perigee at the same time.

    Finally, the local newspaper reported that the full moon will be unusually high in the sky (in the NH) because of the solstice, but I'm not sure about their logic. If true, this full moon could very well light the ground better than average for the same reason our seasons are tied to the position of the sun in the sky instead of our orbital position.

    P.S., as other posters have commented the actual difference in the brightness of the moon is modest enough that few people will legitimately notice a difference. I don't know what the urban legend claims, so I can't answer it's claims, but the astronomy is solid and usually covered in any introductory astronomy class. If you've been "debunking" it, expect to eat plenty of pie, humble pie, over the next few weeks.
  • Yes there will be a close alignment of planets on May 5 next year, but close alignments of planets occur every year to varying degrees. Why is May 5 significant, anyway?

    Ask any Mexican astronomer and he'll tell you. :P

  • With all of this misinformation floating around, I thought this would be a good time to learn about our solar system from the former national expert himself, Dan Quayle:

    "Mars is essentially in the same orbit. Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If there is oxygen, then we can breathe."

    I know that there have also been a few questions about NASA and people possibly losing faith in them due to the recent problems with the Mars projects. Dan, once again, reassures us:

    "For NASA, space is still a high priority."

    Buck up, kids, as Dan says, "The future will be better tomorrow."
  • Even though the moon won't look much brighter than normal tomorrow night, it'll still be a good time to look at it through a telescope because it's a full moon at its perigee, so you'll be able to see an entire side and it'll be closer to Earth than it usually is. It's a good excuse not to pack it up. :)
  • Be sure not to miss this one, because we won't see another one in the us until May 16, 2003.

    There's another lunar eclipse on July 16, 2000 that is visible from east Asia, Australia (best view), and most of the Pacific which is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the longest lunar eclipses. The same circumstances that make the full moon of December 22 worthy of Slashdot discussion also conspire to make the lunar eclipse of July 16 2000 noteworthy:

    • The full moon of July 16 occurs near lunar apogee, when it appears the smallest in the sky and the moon is travelling at its slowest in its orbit;
    • The Earth is near aphelion, which means the Earth is also travelling slowly around the sun;
    • The centre of the Moon will pass within 200 kilometres of the central axis of Earth's shadow cone.

    The apogee and aphelion combination makes the eclipse slow, and the really central nature of the eclipse maximises the duration. Together, this makes totality last for 148 minutes, the longest that lunar eclipse totality can last. This is probably the longest lunar eclipse of our lifetimes.
  • From Websters [m-w.com]:
    1: consisting of fire
    2: hot like a fire
    3: of the color of fire
    4: full of or exuding emotion or spirit

    I think your Physics is better than your English :-)
  • Upon reflection, I realize that I probably took too many shortcuts with the graduate-level mechanics.

    If you work through the Hamiltonian, tidal forces cause orbiting bodies to become tidally locked. Luna is tidally locked 1:1 with the earth, but long before the earth would be tidally locked with the moon (with month-long days) luna will cease orbiting the earth - it will be too far away. If you want the hairy details it's a fairly straightforward Hamiltonian calculation... if you consider PDEs "straightforward."

    On our timescale and orbital altitudes, we're mostly concerned with non-conservative losses (e.g., friction with the upper atmosphere) that eventually causes orbiting bodies to crash.

    As to my comments about PE and KE, forget them. Orbital mechanics are notoriously counterintuitive, so it's extremely difficult to forget the errors in your first textbook. :-( Unfortunately it's easier to remember HS textbooks than PDEs off the top of your head. (Yum. Humble pie.)
  • by DanaL ( 66515 )
    I feel so fulfilled now :)

    I think one of our local newspapers must have pretty much cut n' pasted this straight out of an email as used it as a story.

  • It seems that most people I see "quoting" the bible are merely paraphrasing what they have heard. I know the AC that posted this didn't really quote, but they did say "but the signs are still there." AC here is assuming the role of interpreter for those that read his post. Those that are interested may want to consider the following quotes. For those that are uninterested , then please ignore the following, it probably wasn't meant for you.

    Mark (KJV) 13:22-33
    22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
    23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
    24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
    25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
    26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
    27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
    28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
    29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
    30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
    31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
    32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
    33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

    Now, my interpretation is something like this:
    Man either believes or he doesn't. If you truly believe, then you will always be ready. The things I've read from the Bible, Torah, Koran and Book of Mormon are quite similar in concept. They all had a much richer meaning than the mis-quotes and incorrect paraphrasings conveyed from people who hadn't read much.

    For the curious, read for yourself and make an honest search for truth. I know people that are being seduced by much of the hype into believing that some things of momentous importance are going to happen on some particular day or time. Their faith will be damaged when the appointed time comes and goes without the promised event. What a shame, if they knew the books that their faith is supposed to be based on, they would understand the deceptions.

    A "generation that shall not pass" reference can be measured by the exodus from Egypt. The Jews saw fit to make the golden calf to worship and God said they would not be allowed to enter into the promised land before that generation had passed away. I am looking for some length of time shorter than forty years from now to hold some very terrible events for the earth and occupants. But when? I'm pretty sure it isn't going to be 1-1-2000. But, then again, I have no way of knowing for certain.
  • I don't know that it's such a bad thing that people tend to believe, rather than disbelieve. Do you know how much harder it is to prove, rather than disprove?

    IE, a disproof only requires a contradiction where a proof requires the lack of a contradiction, so it seems to make sense that people believe rather than disbelieve, because it's much easier to disprove to a person once the person believes, than it is to prove to a person once they don't believe.

    If the net is to be a viable, working, self-adjusting ecosystem/social system, I suspect it should also run on the 'tend to trust/believe' system, rather than the 'other way around' Sorta like credit cards online(unless someone can disprove me=), it's pretty safe if people trust the system.

  • Anyone know where I can get some vectoring data on the moon and possibly other planets? The coordinate system doesn't matter, just as long as I can get accurate data.

  • "big fiery thing " uh...to the indians, thats probably what they thought the moon was
  • It never existed, and it does not now exist in any form. The so-called "brain" of this Anonymous Coward is a myth created by conservative so-called "Intellectuals" (moron Money-worshippers) and pro-wealth Fascists to create well-earned hatred in the minds of saner Americans and so persuade them to post on Slashdot. Christopher Columbus thought he discovered this Anonymous Coward's brain in AD 1492, and found no rational thought there. The revisionist version says otherwise, but if you do some research you'll find that there is not a single mention of that version in any publication prior to 1963. Not a single, solitary mention of "Anonymous Coward's brain" of any kind, anywhere. No "Neural networks", no "Synapses", nothing at all. No, the story was invented to discredit the smarter people amongst us by the same people who would want us to forget Germany circa 1939. Obviously Anonymous Coward was in denial, and he obviously knew it. This is why he refused to post under his real name, "Dickbag", instead using the faceless name "Anonymous Coward". This is simple and obvious logic, based on well-known facts, but logic and facts aren't worth much to Anonymous Cowards as we all know.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • What a relief...I was so worried about whether the moon would be the brightest in 133 this December 22nd...I mean the anxiousness, and nervousness was gnawing at me, I could hardly sleep. I'm glad Slashdot has finally put this nagging enigma to sleep.

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]

  • There are no bad The Tick references....

    I still wonder why he only left enough space for the "CHA" on it though...
  • That's a very interesting standard of proof. You're saying that if I could come up with a theory that doesn't contradict anything (ie. completely coherent) then it's automatically true?

    No, just that it isn't possible to disprove it; I'm not one to believe in ultimate truth, so there is nothing that is automatically true.

    I postulate that rational thought and human logic are not sufficient to yield absolute truth in any matter but in realizing their failings.

    I wholeheartedly agree, unfortunately; no amount of human rationalization, logical thought, and reasoning will ever get us to any sort of truth because there isn't any sort of 'truth' in this universe; just existence or not existence. At least by my perspective.

    According to your standard of proof, this must be true, because it contradicts nothing (it supercedes anything that could contradict it!)

    Not that I necessarily think it must be true, but because I agree with with the sentiment, it's hard for me to argue against it. I'm not a firm believer in human rationality or logic except that they are useful tools.

    But imagine the net 5 years ago. If an obscure online retailer asked you to fill in your credit card number and click the happy "Submit" button, would you have done it? I hope not. Where there's not the basis for belief, I think skepticism is the more appropriate response.

    Of course; five years ago there wasn't a 'system' one could use, live in, trust. But today's fears of online credit card fraud seem funny to me when these same people willingly hand over their credit cards to waiters in restaurants; if I really wanted to commit credit card fraud, I'd be scamming credit card numbers from my workplace and then buying stuff online where *my* ID can't yet be verified.

    How long did you believe in Santa before you realized you were being lied to?

    I was never lied to; I was never inculcated into the Santa belief system. I'm curious why it's relevant for you to ask me this even?


You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...