Archive for the ‘solar system dynamics’ Category

Saturn’s moon Janus

Cassini maintains its reputation for surprises right to the end. It’s the ‘moon resonances’ that maintain ring stability, but with a new twist.

For three decades, astronomers thought that only Saturn’s moon Janus confined the planet’s A ring – the largest and farthest of the visible rings.

But after poring over NASA’s Cassini mission data, Cornell astronomers now conclude that the teamwork of seven moons keeps this ring corralled, as explains.

Without forces to hold the A ring in check, the ring would keep spreading out and ultimately disappear.


How bright is the moon, really?

Posted: October 17, 2017 by oldbrew in moon, research, solar system dynamics

Researchers aim to find out. It’s an interesting question as ‘our Moon’s average visual albedo is 0.12’, similar to soil or asphalt, and yet songwriters can describe ‘the light of the silvery Moon’.

The “inconstant moon,” as Shakespeare called it in Romeo and Juliet, is more reliable than his pair of star-crossed lovers might have thought, says

Now researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) plan to make the moon even more reliable with a new project to measure its brightness.


Waves in Lake Ontario [image credit: SYSS Mouse / Wikipedia]

Researchers say ‘a consistent signal emerges’ over longer periods. In theory the Moon should be a suspect given its role in tides?

Beneath the peaceful rolling waves of a lake is a rumble, imperceptible to all but seismometers, that ripples into the earth like the waves ripple along the shore, reports

In a study published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth, scientists at the University of Utah report that these small seismic signals can aid science.

As a record of wave motion in a lake, they can reveal when a lake freezes over and when it thaws. And as a small, constant source of seismic energy in the surrounding earth, lake microseisms can shine a light on the geology surrounding a lake.


Lunar precession update

Posted: October 15, 2017 by oldbrew in Fibonacci, Maths, moon, Phi, solar system dynamics
Tags: ,

Credit: NASA

I found out there’s an easy way to simplify one of the lunar charts published on the Talkshop in 2015 on this post:
Why Phi? – some Moon-Earth interactions

In the chart, synodic months (SM) and apsidal cycles (LAC) are multiples of 104:
79664 / 104 = 766
728/104 = 7

The other numbers are not multiples of 104, but if 7 is added to each we get this:
86105 + 7 = 86112 = 828 * 104 (TM)
85377 + 7 = 85384 = 821 * 104 (AM)
5713 + 7 = 5720 = 55 * 104 (FMC)
6441 + 7 = 6448 = 62 * 104 (TY)

TM = tropical months
AM = anomalistic months
SM = synodic months
LAC = lunar apsidal cycles
FMC = full moon cycles
TY = tropical years

Here’s an imaginary alternative chart based on these multiples of
104. [Cross-check: 828 – 766 = 62]

In reality, 55 FMC = just over 62 TY and 7 LAC = just short of 62 TY.
For every 7 apsidal cycles (LAC), there are 766 synodic months (both chart versions).

In the real chart:
For every 104 apsidal cycles, all numbers except SM slip by -1 from being multiples of 104. So after 7*104 LAC all the other totals except SM are ‘reduced’ by 7 each.

In the case of tropical years, 6448 – 7 = 6441 = 19 * 339
19 tropical years = 1 Metonic cycle

If the period had been 6448 TY it would not have been a whole number of Metonic cycles.
Also 6441 * 4 TY (25764) is exactly one year more than 25763 synodic years i.e. the precession cycle, by definition.

Fibonacci: 104 is 13*8, and the modified FMC number is 55 (all Fibonacci numbers).

Phi: we’ve explained elsewhere that the number of full moon cycles in one lunar apsidal cycle is very close to 3*Phi².
We can see from the modified chart that the FMC:LAC ratio of 55:7 is 3 times greater than 55:21 (55/21 = ~Phi²)
– – –
Note – for more discussion of the ~62 year period, try this search: 62 year
[see Google site search box in grey zone on left of this web page]

Where is Planet 9? [credit: NASA]

Planetary theorists say super-Earths are commonly found in other planetary systems, but missing – so far – in our solar system. The evidence seems to be mounting, so is it just a case of tracking one down?

It might be lingering bashfully on the icy outer edges of our solar system, hiding in the dark, but subtly pulling strings behind the scenes: stretching out the orbits of distant bodies, perhaps even tilting the entire solar system to one side, says NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

If a planet is there, it’s extremely distant and will stay that way (with no chance — in case you’re wondering — of ever colliding with Earth, or bringing “days of darkness”). It is a possible “Planet Nine” — a world perhaps 10 times the mass of Earth and 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune.

The signs so far are indirect, mainly its gravitational footprints, but that adds up to a compelling case nonetheless.


Juno Jupiter Mystery

Posted: September 30, 2017 by oldbrew in solar system dynamics
Tags: ,

‘Scientists are puzzled’ as usual when actual evidence arrives, but that’s only to be expected. Not looking good for metallic hydrogen theory?


The Current State of JUNO

The lead scientist, Dr. Scott Bolton, admits essentially that Jupiter is not a gas giant, stating ” We’re seeing a lot of our ideas were incorrect and maybe naive.” (1)  Scientists are puzzled to see that the familiar striped cloud layers ‘may be’ only skin deep. These zones and belts either don’t exist or the Juno microwave instrument just isn’t sensitive to it. (2) The gravity experiment is not seeing a concentrated core at the center of the planet or a pure hydrogen interior, the two competing hypotheses, Dr. Bolton stated “and what we found was that neither are true.” Instead, the data suggests a ‘fuzzy’ core, with unexplained ‘anomalous masses’. (3) The enormously powerful ultraoviolet auroral ovals are imagined to be due to energetic particles descending around the poles, but what the Juno JEDI energetic particle detector has detected to date are streams of…

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Credit: NASA

This is from a Q&A on a website linked with Sydney Observatory. We add brief notes at the end.

Lionel asks: Congratulations on your Venus book.

Excellent. I notice that there is a 243 year cycle for Transits of Venus
243 x 365.242 = 224.7 x 395
So far so good. The axial rotation period for Venus is 243.1 days.
Is this a coincidence or is there some underlying geometrical fact that I cannot see?

Answer: An interesting and complex question that I address below.

Patterns in the transits of Venus
Let us first look at the patterns in the transits of Venus. We need to note that Venus and the Earth line up with the Sun every 583.92 days or 1.59872 years. This is called the synodic period.

If there was a transit, say the one in June 2004, for another transit to occur, the two planets must not only line up with each other and the Sun, but do so after an integer number of years so that they are back in the right places on each of their orbits.

Venus and Earth fulfil these requirements after five synodic periods = 7.9936 years as this is almost, though not quite, equal to the integer eight. Thus transits of Venus generally occur in pairs eight years apart. However, because of the slight inequality there is no third transit after another eight years.

A more accurate relationship occurs after 152 synodic periods = 243.00544 years or ~395 Venus years. The pattern of Venus transits thus repeats at 243 year intervals (This is the cycle quoted by Lionel in his question above). For example, the first pair of June transits after 8 June 2004 begins on 11 June 2247. Of course, in the meantime there is also a pair of December transits beginning in 2117.

The rotation of Venus
Scientists using radar observations from the 1960s onwards discovered that Venus spins backwards, that is in the opposite direction to its motion around the Sun, at the slow rate of 243.02 days.

They soon realised that means that Venus, almost but not quite, shows the same face towards the Earth each time the planets are lined up with each other and the Sun. Somehow there is a resonance between the motion of the Earth around the Sun and Venus’ spin around its axis. Scientists are unsure why this is the case, but one suggestion is that Venus is more massive on the face turned towards the Earth at those times and consequently it was gravitationally captured by the Earth.

How is it worked out that Venus shows the same face towards the Earth each time they line up? The quoted value of 243.02 days is with respect to distant stars. With a little arithmetic (taking inverses) we can easily convert that value to the rotation period with respect to the Sun or, in other words, to the day on Venus. It is 116.75 (Earth) days. Five of those periods equal 583.75 days, which is almost the same as the 583.92 day synodic period. So each time the planets line up Venus shows almost the same face to the Sun and hence the same face to the Earth, which is always on those occasions on the opposite side of Venus.

Coincidence or not
As Lionel points out it is interesting that transits of Venus repeat in a cycle of 243 years while the rotation period of Venus with respect to the stars is 243 days, The above detailed discussion indicates that there is no obvious connection that gives rise to the same number in each case. However, the calculations all depend on many of the same factors such as the orbital periods of Venus and the Earth so maybe there was a chance that the same number should recur.

Note the values quoted above are from the NASA Venus Fact Sheet.

Source: Are transits and the rotation of Venus linked? – Observations
– – –
Talkshop notes

Re: ‘Five of those periods equal 583.75 days, which is almost the same as the 583.92 day synodic period.’ [‘Venus and the Earth line up with the Sun every 583.92 days or 1.59872 years’]

Note 1: 23 solar rotations @ 25.38 days = 583.74 days
This also looks like a resonance, this time between the Sun and the Venus day.
. . .
Re: Venus and Earth fulfil these requirements after five synodic periods = 7.9936 years
A more accurate relationship occurs after 152 synodic periods = 243.00544 years or ~395 Venus years.

Note 2: using their own data, 157 synodic periods is more accurate, i.e. closer to a whole number of Earth orbits.
1.59872 * 152 = 243.00534 years (as stated in their notes)
1.59872 * 157 = 250.99904 years (~408 Venus years)
Of course that would be an ‘extra’ five synodic periods = 7.9936 years.

That may contradict the official ‘wisdom’ but there it is. It was discussed in some detail in this 2015 Talkshop post (some readers may find the comments to be of interest):
Why Phi? – a Venus transit cycle model

Insightful if somewhat depressing look at Brexit realpolotik…

The Slog.

me4 The British Prime Minister’s determination to sell out on Brexit is really an acceptance of geopolitical realities as her allies see them. The window available for voters to have their will prevail will be closed….after their Rights have been tossed out of it.

There were only two phrases uttered by Theresa May yesterday of any interest to the 68% of Brits who now want Brexit to go ahead….and who tend to add in research, “So can we just bloody get on with it?”

Mrs Mayormaynot told her audience she wanted “a treaty with the EU”, and that come what may, “The British People are in control”. The first contradicted the second, and the latter is a lie anyway. Nobody has asked us whether we want a treaty with the EU (for myself, I emphatically don’t want any treaty at all with illiberal control freaks) and if the People were…

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Mercury [image credit: NASA]

The first photos of ice at Mercury’s poles were released in 2014 but this research goes a step further, as reports. It finds that ‘the total area of the three sheets [is] about 3,400 square kilometers—slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island’.

The scorching hot surface of Mercury seems like an unlikely place to find ice, but research over the past three decades has suggested that water is frozen on the first rock from the sun, hidden away on crater floors that are permanently shadowed from the sun’s blistering rays.

Now, a new study led by Brown University researchers suggests that there could be much more ice on Mercury’s surface than previously thought.

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, adds three new members to the list of craters near Mercury’s north pole that appear to harbor large surface ice deposits.


Where is Planet 9? [credit: NASA]

This may say something about what is not likely to be true about the mysterious, or mythical, Planet 9 but obviously it’s still all in the realms of theory. If it did form around the sun, how did it get to be so much further away from it than the known major planets in the solar system?

Astronomers at the University of Sheffield have shown that ‘Planet 9’ – an unseen planet on the edge of our solar system – probably formed closer to home than previously thought, reports

A team led by Dr Richard Parker from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy has found that Planet 9 is ‘unlikely’ to have been captured from another planetary system, as has previously been suggested, and must have formed around the sun.

The outskirts of the solar system have always been something of an enigma, with astronomers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries searching for a giant planet that wasn’t there, and the subsequent discovery of Pluto in 1930.



What is going on with Australian temperature data? It doesn’t look good, as Jennifer Marohasy explains.

Australia is a large continent in the Southern Hemisphere. The temperatures measured and recorded by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology contribute to the calculation of global averages.

These values, of course, suggest catastrophic human-caused global warming. Two decades ago the Bureau replaced most of the manually-read mercury thermometers in its weather stations with electronic devices that could be read automatically – so since at least 1997 most of the temperature data has been collected by automatic weather stations (AWS).

Before this happened there was extensive testing of the devices – parallel studies at multiple site to ensure that measurements from the new weather stations tallied with measurements from the old liquid-in-glass thermometers.


Cassini probe at Saturn
[credit: NASA]

NASA’s Cassini space probe is still sending back useful data before it ends its 20 year mission by diving into the unexplored Saturnian atmosphere.

The spectacular rings of Saturn may be relatively young, perhaps just 100 million years or so old, says BBC News.

This is the early interpretation of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft on its final orbits of the giant world. If confirmed, it means we are looking at Saturn at a very special time in the age of the Solar System.

Cassini is scheduled to make only two more close-in passes before driving itself to destruction in Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September. The probe is being disposed of in this way because it will soon run out of fuel.


Also eclipsing internet records

Only to be be expected, but the great American eclipse was a massive internet hit, as the daily sun [sic] reports.

The total solar eclipse of August 21 attracted more traffic to NASA websites than any other event on record, according to data revealed by the US space agency, reports Ians. 

“With more than 90 million page views on and, we topped our previous web traffic record about seven times over,” NASA officials wrote. 

It was one of the biggest internet events in recent history and by far the biggest online event NASA has ever measured. “We estimate more than 40 million views of our live broadcast on and multiple social platforms,” NASA said. 


2017 eclipse path over US [credit: NASA — click on image to enlarge]

Time to go fishing for insights into eclipse phenomena, thanks to a loan of specialized US Navy comms equipment.

On Monday, just as CU Denver began the new academic year, an awe-inspiring solar eclipse captivated people across North America, reports

A thin line of total solar coverage spanned, at various intervals, the continental United States, completely blocking out the sun from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., for a few remarkable minutes.

Mark Golkowski, PhD, acting chair and associate professor of Electrical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU Denver, and several students collected data during this rare celestial event by using state-of-the-art Naval submarine communication technology.


Credit: NASA

Among other findings, solar EUV [extreme ultraviolet radiation] turns out to be a greater planetary force than expected in this new research. Also the bow shock is greater the nearer Mars gets to the Sun during its orbit.

As the energetic particles of the solar wind speed across interplanetary space, their motion is modified by objects in their path. A study, based on data from ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, has thrown new light on a surprising interaction between the planet Mars and supersonic particles in the solar wind, reports

Scientists have long been aware that a feature known as a bow shock
forms upstream of a planet – rather like the bow of a ship, where the water is slowed and then diverted around the obstacle.

The bow shock marks a fairly sharp boundary where the solar wind slows suddenly as it begins to plough into a planet’s magnetosphere or outer atmosphere.

In the case of Mars, which does not generate a global magnetic field and has a thin atmosphere, the main obstacle to the solar wind is the ionosphere – a region of electrically charged particles in its upper atmosphere.


Ben Somervell points out the flaws in the call for a ‘second referendum’ on EU membership.

Ben Somervell's Brexit Blog

Here is the hyperlink to an article entitled “Miliband’s second referendum idea’s bananas” which I have just written for the “Comment Central” website. I have reproduced below the text of the article:

Former Foreign Secretary and former Labour leadership candidate, David Miliband, stated this week that he supports a second EU referendum and that he is trying to persuade MPs to fight for such a vote. Such a proposal is deeply flawed and does not wash with voters. This was shown in the fact that the Liberal Democrats’ (the only party to propose such a vote) vote share fell from 7.9 per cent in the 2015 General Election to just 7.4 per cent in the 2017 General Election. The party failed even to garner the support of the 22 per cent of voters who still think, despite the Brexit vote, that we should remain members of the EU and their…

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hitchensFrom part of Peter Hitchens Mail on Sunday Blog

I feel sorry for British Gas, attacked for raising the price of electricity. I still find it confusing a gas company sells electricity, but the facts are quite simple.

British Gas and the other power companies are raising charges because we have a mad Government. Under New Labour’s unhinged Climate Change Act, backed by the Tories and virtually unopposed in Parliament, we are steering straight into an iceberg.

Perfectly good coal-fired power stations all over the country are being shut down and blown up so they can’t be reopened, because of crazed Green regulations.

In some cases, they are being converted to burning wood chips imported from the USA. If this did any good (which is, er, unproven) it would be immediately cancelled out by the huge number of new coal-fired power stations recently built in India and China.


lomborgBjorn Lomborg eviscerates a bad stats propaganda piece masquerading as a scientific ‘study’ in the Lancet. The FakeNews BBC uncritically regurgitates the story:

Based on a pathetically wrong study which is timed just right for great coverage.

The study specifically excludes any adaptation and assumes a laughably small number of cold deaths. Both dramatically push up damages and push down benefits.

Excluding adaptation leads to dramatic exaggeration of impacts. The study assumes that *no one* will make any adjustments over the next 83 years to accommodate higher temperatures, like cooler buildings, more greenery, more light surfaces and more air conditioning. Even the commentators on the paper are forced to point out that this is unrealistic: “People are known to adapt and become less vulnerable than previously to extreme weather conditions because of advances in medical technology, air conditioning, and thermal insulation in houses.”


These two 1977 vintage machines really are ‘cosmic overachievers’ as this report calls them. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in 2012, but the last science instrument is not due to be switched off until 2030.

Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September.

Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier. Their story has not only impacted generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth’s culture, including film, art and music.

Each spacecraft carries a Golden Record of Earth sounds, pictures and messages. Since the spacecraft could last billions of years, these circular time capsules could one day be the only traces of human civilization.


H/T to GWPF for this new paper linking solar variation with climate change.

Date: 28/07/17
Mohammed Allan et al., Climate of the Past, 11 July 2017
Several intervals of significant rapid climate change were detected during the Holocene at 10.3, 9.3-9.5, around 8.2, 6.4-6.2, 4.7-4.5, and around 2.7 ka BP. Those intervals are similar to the cold events evidenced in different natural paleoclimate archivers, suggesting common climate forcing mechanisms related to changes in solar irradiance.

Abstract. We present a decadal-centennial scale Holocene climate record based on trace elements contents from a 65 cm stalagmite (“Père Noël”) from Belgian Père Noël cave. Père Noël (PN) stalagmite covers the last 12.7 ka according to U/Th dating. High spatial resolution measurements of trace elements (Sr, Ba, Mg and Al) were done by LaserAblation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). Trace elements profiles were interpreted as environmental and climate changes in the Han-sur-Lesse region. Power spectrum estimators and continuous wavelet 15 transform were applied on trace elements time series to detect any statistically significant periodicities in the PN stalagmite. Spectral analyses reveal decadal to millennial periodicities (i.e., 68-75, 133-136, 198-209, 291-358, 404- 602, 912-1029 and 2365-2670 yr) in the speleothem record. Results were compared to reconstructed sunspot number data to determine whether solar signal is presents in PN speleothem. The occurrence of significant solar periodicities (i.e., cycles of Gleissberg, de Vries, unnamed 500 years, Eddy and Hallstat) supports for an impact of solar forcing on 20 PN speleothem trace elements contents. Moreover, several intervals of significant rapid climate change were detected during the Holocene at 10.3, 9.3-9.5, around 8.2, 6.4-6.2, 4.7-4.5, and around 2.7 ka BP. Those intervals are similar to the cold events evidenced in different natural paleoclimate archivers, suggesting common climate forcing mechanisms related to changes in solar irradiance.