Archive for the ‘Celestial Mechanics’ Category

Credit: VIRTUAL TELESCOPE [click to enlarge]

Dr Roy Spencer discusses today’s asteroid approach, the closest for 13 years.

An asteroid capable of destroying Washington D.C. and New York City at the same time will be making its closest approach to Earth on April 19.

At a half-mile wide, it will have over 30,000 times as much mass as the 2013 meteor which exploded over Russia in 2013.

The current asteroid, called “2014 JO25“, is traveling at the unimaginably fast speed of 75,000 mph. It has been estimated that an asteroid of this size is capable of wiping out an area the size of New England, and causing global cooling from the dust that would be lofted into the stratosphere.

“2014 JO25” will be the closest approach asteroid of this size in the last 13 years.

Credit: IB Times

It’s not yet known what the origin of asteroid (or comet) ‘Bee-Zed’ is or if it’s one of a class of similar objects in retrograde co-orbital resonance, as reports. The researchers say ‘how it got there remains a mystery.’

For at least a million years, an asteroid orbiting the “wrong” way around the sun has been playing a cosmic game of chicken with giant Jupiter and with about 6,000 other asteroids sharing the giant planet’s space, says a report published in the latest issue of Nature.

The asteroid, nicknamed Bee-Zed, is the only one in this solar system that’s known both to have an opposite, retrograde orbit around the sun while at the same time sharing a planet’s orbital space, says researcher and co-author Paul Wiegert of Western’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.


With sadness, I’m sharing the news that my Talkshop co-blogger Tim Channon passed away on Friday. Tim had been bravely battling with cancer for some time, and was still upbeat and lively-minded when I spoke with him last week. Since then unfortunately, medical complications set in.

Tim was one of a kind. A humorous, thoughtful and technically brilliant individual. His contribution to our understanding of cyclic phenomena through the analysis software he wrote propelled me into my own research. His patient recording of weather data and survey of UK weather stations demonstrate the depth of interest and passion he had for bringing facts to bear on the climate debate. His dedication, skill and good natured rebukes against uninformed speculation and bad theory puts him in the Pantheon of great sceptical thinkers and scientists.

Tim will be missed and remembered.



sun-earth-moonA key point of the new theory is that as the Moon migrated outwards from Earth, its orbit reached a critical distance where the Sun’s gravitational influence overtook that of the Earth, as explains. Needless to say there’s more to it than that.

Earth’s Moon is an unusual object in our solar system, and now there’s a new theory to explain how it got where it is, which puts some twists on the current “giant impact” theory. The work is published Oct. 31 in the journal Nature.

The Moon is relatively big compared to the planet it orbits, and it’s made of almost the same stuff, minus some more volatile compounds that evaporated long ago. That makes it distinct from every other major object in the Solar System, said Sarah Stewart, professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Davis and senior author on the paper.

“Every other body in the solar system has different chemistry,” she said.


The three star system, with two young stars closer together and one further out. [credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)]

The three star system, with two young stars closer together and one further out.
[credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)]

ScienceDaily reports an unusual (to date) set-up involving three stars with a clear relationship in their average distances from each other. Quote: ‘The most central of the young stars is separated from the other two by 61 and 183 times the Earth-Sun distance’. The ratio of 61:183 is 1:3

For the first time, astronomers have seen a dusty disk of material around a young star fragmenting into a multiple-star system.

Scientists had suspected such a process, caused by gravitational instability, was at work, but new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) revealed the process in action.


2012 Venus transit [credit:  JAXA/NASA/Lockheed Martin

2012 Venus transit [credit: JAXA/NASA/Lockheed Martin]

Venus is certainly an oddball in various ways. Is that the ghost of Velikovsky lurking in the background to this story?

Venus and Mercury have been observed transiting the Sun many times over the past few centuries. When these planets are seen passing between the Sun and the Earth, opportunities exist for some great viewing, not to mention serious research.

And whereas Mercury makes transits with greater frequency (three times since 2000), a transit of Venus is something of a rare treat. In June of 2012, Venus made its most recent transit – an event which will not happen again until 2117.

Luckily, during this latest event, scientists made some very interesting observations which revealed X-ray and ultraviolet emissions coming from the dark side of Venus.




Nicola Scafetta writes:

Dear all,

it was a pleasure to meet you at London. Some of you asked me about my paper in press about a link between astronomical, solar and climate oscillations. Here it is:

Scafetta, N., Milani, F., Antonio Bianchini, A., Ortolani, S.: On the astronomical origin of the Hallstatt oscillation found in radiocarbon and climate records throughout the Holocene. Earth-Science Reviews 162, 24–43, 2016. There is a free access to the article, and is valid for anybody until November 10, 2016 by using this link

(Permanent copy here)

The importance of the article is that it demonstrates quite clearly that the long Hallstatt oscillation (about 2318 year period), which is observed in climate and solar records is a major stable resonance of the solar system. The paper also evaluates the other major planetary stable resonances and we found all other typical oscillations found in climate and solar records such as a quasi 20-year oscillation, a quasi 60-year oscillation, the 82-97 year Gleissberg oscillation and the 159-185 year Jose oscillation (and others).


Brodgar standing stones, Orkney [image credit: BBC]

Brodgar standing stones, Orkney [image credit: BBC]

University of Adelaide research has for the first time statistically proven that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain, the great circles, were constructed specifically in line with the movements of the Sun and Moon, 5000 years ago. H/T ScienceDaily

The research, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, details the use of innovative 2D and 3D technology to construct quantitative tests of the patterns of alignment of the standing stones.


The Kepler-223 planetary system, which has long-term stability because its four planets interact gravitationally to keep the beat of a carefully choreographed dance as they orbit their host star. [credit: W.Rebel]

The Kepler-223 planetary system, which has long-term stability because its four planets interact gravitationally to keep the beat of a carefully choreographed dance as they orbit their host star.
[credit: W.Rebel]

As the report says: ‘Kepler-223’s two innermost planets are in a 4:3 resonance. The second and third are in a 3:2 resonance. And the third and fourth are in a 4:3 resonance.’ They are ‘far more massive than Earth’. Interesting to say the least.

The four planets of the Kepler-223 star system seem to have little in common with the planets of Earth’s own solar system. And yet a new study shows that the Kepler-223 system is trapped in an orbital configuration that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune may have broken from in the early history of the solar system.

“Exactly how and where planets form is an outstanding question in planetary science,” said the study’s lead author, Sean Mills, a graduate student in astronomy & astrophysics at the University of Chicago. “Our work essentially tests a model for planet formation for a type of planet we don’t have in our solar system.”


wpid-PRP-Censured.jpgA new paper is in the works from a group of mainstream solar physics theorists who work with dynamo models. It explores the possibility that the Sun’s dynamo is modulated by planetary motion – something we’ve been working on here at the talkshop for the last six years. It finds that the gravitational interaction of the motions of Venus, Earth and Jupiter (VEJ) could be involved with both the 11.07 and 22.14 Schwabe and Hale solar cycles.

I’m not going to post the paper yet, as it is still undergoing peer review at a major journal, but I thought it would be fun to provide a teaser. Here’s part of the bibliography. If you look at the top and bottom references, they are to papers by Nicola Scafetta and  Ian Wilson which were published in our special edition of Pattern Recognition in Physics at the end of 2013.


A closer look at Kepler’s third law

Posted: March 25, 2016 by oldbrew in Celestial Mechanics

Kepler's laws [credit:]

Kepler’s laws [credit:]

The Physics Classroom website says:
‘Kepler’s third law provides an accurate description of the period and distance for a planet’s orbits about the sun. Additionally, the same law that describes the T²/R³ ratio for the planets’ orbits about the sun also accurately describes the T²/R³ ratio for any satellite (whether a moon or a man-made satellite) about any planet. There is something much deeper to be found in this T²/R³ ratio – something that must relate to basic fundamental principles of motion.’

But is it really quite simple?


Why Phi? – lunar eclipses at Stonehenge

Posted: February 19, 2016 by oldbrew in Celestial Mechanics, Cycles, moon, Phi
Tags: ,

Bluestone Horseshoe at Stonehenge - 19 Stones

Bluestone Horseshoe at Stonehenge – 19 Stones

Stonehenge Visitors Guide – under ‘Eclipse Cycles’ – says:

‘Now, it’s widely accepted that Stonehenge was used to predict eclipses. The inner “horseshoe” of 19 stones at the very heart of Stonehenge actually acted as a long-term calculator that could predict lunar eclipses. By moving one of Stonehenge’s markers along the 30 markers of the outer circle, it’s discovered that the cycle of the moon can be predicted. Moving this marker one lunar month at a time – as opposed to one lunar day the others were moved – made it possible for them to mark when a lunar eclipse was going to occur in the typical 47-month lunar eclipse cycle. The marker would go around the circle 38 times [2 x 19] and halfway through its next circle, on the 47th full moon, a lunar eclipse would occur.’


Just about now…


The Venus Climate Orbiter AKATSUKI will try to enter the orbit of Venus on Dec. 7 (Mon.) after five years of operation. We are welcoming support messages.


lunar_TYTallbloke writes: Stuart ‘Oldbrew’ has been getting his calculator warm to discover the congruences in various aspects of the Lunar orbit around Earth, and its relationship to Earth-Moon orbit around the Sun. Emerging from this study are some useful insights into longer periods, such as the ‘precession of the equinoxes‘.

Some matching periods of lunar numbers:
86105 tropical months (TM) @ 27.321582 days = 2352524.8 days
85377 anomalistic months (AM) @ 27.55455 days = 2352524.8 days
79664 synodic months (SM) @ 29.530589 days = 2352524.8 days

These identical values are used in the chart on the right (top row). The second row numbers are the difference between the numbers in the first row (TM – AM and AM – SM).
The derivation of the third row number (6441) is shown on the chart itself [click on the chart to enlarge it].

The period of 6441 tropical years (6440.75 sidereal years) is one quarter of the Earth’s ‘precession of the equinox’.
Multiplying by 4: 25764 tropical years = 25763 sidereal years.
The difference of 1 is due to precession.


Orcus in blue, Pluto in red, Neptune in grey [credit: Eurocommuter / Wikipedia]

Orcus in blue, Pluto in red, Neptune in grey
[credit: Eurocommuter / Wikipedia]

The ‘anti-Pluto’ label arose from the fact that the orbit of probable dwarf planet Orcus looks like a mirror-image of that of Pluto (as shown above), and is less than three years weeks shorter than Pluto’s 248 years. It also has its own relatively large moon – or binary neighbour – just like Pluto. [More details about the graphic here]

Wikipedia says: 90482 Orcus is a Kuiper belt object with a large moon, Vanth. It was discovered on February 17, 2004 by Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale University. Precovery images as early as November 8, 1951 were later identified. It is probably a dwarf planet.

Orcus is a plutino, locked in a 2:3 resonance with Neptune, making two revolutions around the Sun to every three of Neptune’s. This is much like Pluto, except that it is constrained to always be in the opposite phase of its orbit from Pluto: Orcus is at aphelion when Pluto is at perihelion and vice versa.


Paul Vaughan has produced a six page .pdf document crammed with the fruits of his research into the ways in which solar variation affects Earth’s climate. Several of the observations and concepts coincide with the work we have been doing here at the talkshop over the last six years to unravel the mysteries of solar system dynamics and their effect on Terrestrial variation. Paul has applied his stats and visualisation skills and thorough approach to referencing, including direct links to data. This has resulted in a landmark document which readers will find both useful and inspiring. It demonstrates the progress that has been made in solar-terrestrial theory, (with hints about the underlying planetary solar relations too).




This repost of Ian Wilson’s Jan 1st article at his Astro-Climate-Connection blog continues development of his hypothesis that the Moon triggers El Nino events. This is relevant as we are currently on the cusp of El Nino, which may develop as the year goes on. Ian predicted El Nino for later this year in a comment here last year, based on his investigations.

The El Niños during New Moon Epoch 5 – 1963 to 1994
Jan 1st 2015 : Ian Wilson PhD

A detailed investigation of the precise alignments between the lunar synodic [lunar phase] cycle and the 31/62 year Perigee-Syzygy cycle between 1865 and 2014 shows that it naturally breaks up into six 31 year epochs each of which has a distinctly different tidal property. The second 31 year interval starts with the precise alignment on the 15th of April 1870 with the subsequent epoch boundaries occurring every 31 years after that:

Epoch 1 – Prior to 15th April  1870
Epoch 2 – 15th April 1870 to 18th April 1901
Epoch 3 – 8th April 1901 to 20th April 1932
Epoch 4 – 20th April 1932 to 23rd April 1963
Epoch 5 – 23rd April 1963 to 25th April 1994
Epoch 6 – 25th April 1994 to 27th April 2025
The hypothesis that the 31/62 year seasonal tidal cycle plays a significant role in sequencing the triggering of El Niño events leads one to reasonably expect that tidal effects for the following three epochs:
New Moon Epoch:
Epoch 1 – Prior to 15th April  1870
Epoch 3 – 8th April 1901 to 20th April 1932
Epoch 5 – 23rd April 1963 to 25th April 1994

Relevant to current discussions on the talkshop concerning changes in Earth’s length of day (LOD) and the effect of planetary orbital resonances on the Moon’s orbital parameters and Earth climatic variation; this is a repost from Ian Wilson’s excellent Astro-Climate-Connection website. Ian very generously opens with a hat tip to this blog, (at which he is one of the ‘collaborators’ he mentions). 

Connecting the Planetary Periodicities to Changes in the Earth’s LOD
Monday, October 14, 2013 : Ian Wilson PhD

[(*) Some of the findings in this blog post concerning the connection between the Earth’s rotation rate and the planetary configurations have also been independently discovered by Rog “Tallbloke” Tattersall and his collaborators]

A. The Connection Between Extreme Pergiean Spring Tides and Long-term Changes in the Earth’s Rotation Rate as Measured by the Rate-of-Change of its Length-of-Day (LOD). (*)

If you plot the rate of change of the Earth’s Length of Day (LOD) [with the short-term atmospheric component removed] against time [starting in 1962] you find that there is a ~ 6 year periodicity that is phase-locked with the 6 year period that it takes the lunar line-of-nodes  to re-align with the lunar line-of-apse [see the first note directly below and reference [1] for a description of the method used to determine the time rate of change of LOD].

NB: The pro-grade precession of the lunar line-of-apse once around the Earth with respect to the stars takes 8.8504 Julian years (J2000) while the retrograde precession of the lunar line-of-apse line-of-nodes once around the Earth with respect to the stars takes 18.6000 Julian years (J2000). Hence, the lunar line-of-apse and the ascending node of the lunar line-of-nodes will realign once every:

(18.6000 x 8.8504) / (18.6000 + 8.8504)  = 5.9969 Julian years

Figure 1



Planetary conjunction [image credit: EPA / Daily Mail]

Planetary conjunction [image credit: EPA / Daily Mail]

For the Jupiter-Venus-Mercury (JVMe) model, we start with this basic synodic conjunction relationship:
61 Jupiter-Venus (J-V) = 100 Venus-Mercury (V-Me) = 161 Jupiter-Mercury (J-Me) conjunctions in 39.58 years.
Orbit numbers per 39.58y: 64.337~ Venus, 164.337~ Mercury, 3.3365~ Jupiter
Jupiter-Venus-Mercury chart

[3 x 39.58 years = 118.74 years]

Since the ratio 61:100:161 is only one conjunction different from 60:100:160 (= 3:5:8), there is a very close match to a Fibonacci-based ratio as 3,5 and 8 are all Fibonacci numbers.

In the model we convert the orbits to whole numbers using a multiple of 3, to obtain a triple conjunction period where there are (very close to) a whole number of orbits of the relevant planets, as per the chart [right].


The Earth is from Saturn - The Moon is from Jupiter

The concept of Axial Tilt [aka Obliquity] is very straightforward.