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What Was New at Bad Astronomy in 2003?

Archive: 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999

New Site Additions

If you are coming here from the "Coast to Coast AM" radio program then you should take a look at this page where I have links to topics George Noory and I discussed.

November 14, 2003

Dreee! Dreee! Dreee! Bad Astronomy attacks! I have a visitation in my shower.

November 8, 2003

No, you're not seeing things: advertising has returned to the Bad Astronomy site. The folks at are longtime fans of this site, and how could I resist that? Their link is on the top right of every page. Also, I decided to dabble with putting up Google's targeted ad network. The ads displayed should have some relevance to the page on which they are located. However, when testing this, I saw that one ad was for a noted crank's website. Luckily, I can filter out URLs, so hopefully his won't show up again. But if you see an ad that is inappropriate, please let me know!

October 29, 2003:
You have probably heard that the Sun had a fairly major eruption on October 28. Some people are claiming all sorts of calamity due to this, but you shouldn't worry about it frying your eyeballs or producing mutant children. In a nutshell, the Sun had what is called a Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME. These happen sometimes, and they can play havoc with the Earth's magnetic field. This in turn can mess up radio broadcasts and potentially damage satellites. This big one was boosted by a solar flare, which accelerated the particles from the Sun. Usually, it takes between four and five days for a CME to impact us, but this one made it from the Sun to the Earth in less than a day. That is seriously fast. However, we have already borne the brunt of the impact, so if nothing has happened yet, nothing is likely to happen at all.

For more info, try this NASA webpage (which has way cool movies of the event), and you can discuss the flare/CME on my bulletin board.

November 3, 2003:

Radio interview tonight!

I just found out that an interview I taped last week will air at 7:15 Pacific time tonight (10:15 Eastern). It's actually an internet radio show. Go to Are We Alone? to listen in. The show is hosted by SETI astronomer Seth Shostak. He and I were at a CSICOP meeting last week, and got a chance to tape a few minutes about the Harmonic Concordance.

October 31, 2003:


Happy Halloween from Bad Astronomy! In the spirit of the holiday, below is an image of IC 2118, a nebula in Orion. When it's shown as it is on the left, it's called the Witch Head Nebula. See why? Amazingly, when you rotate it, it looks like another Halloween figure: a running ghost. That's the picture on the right.

Have a safe and fun holiday! Don't let the whackos, woowoos, weirdos, cranks, kooks, or crackpots get you down!

Witch Head Nebula Running Ghost Nebula
Witch HeadRunning Ghost

October 29, 2003:
You have probably heard that the Sun had a fairly major eruption on October 28. Some people are claiming all sorts of calamity due to this, but you shouldn't worry about it frying your eyeballs or producing mutant children. In a nutshell, the Sun had what is called a Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME. These happen sometimes, and they can play havoc with the Earth's magnetic field. This in turn can mess up radio broadcasts and potentially damage satellites. This big one was boosted by a solar flare, which accelerated the particles from the Sun. Usually, it takes between four and five days for a CME to impact us, but this one made it from the Sun to the Earth in less than a day. That is seriously fast. However, we have already borne the brunt of the impact, so if nothing has happened yet, nothing is likely to happen at all.

For more info, try this NASA webpage (which has way cool movies of the event), and you can discuss the flare/CME on my bulletin board.

October 19, 2003:

The Concorde, chanting Ommmm, in harmony. Get it? 
Huh? Huh?
Some people say that on November 8-9, 2003, there will be an alignment of the planets (called the Harmonic Concordance) that will inspire humanity to be nice to everyone and raise us to a new level of consciousness. While that would be pretty cool and all, it ain't gonna happen. Here's why not.

September 14, 2003:

Take that, giant planet which is 
1000 times the volume of the Earth!
The latest astronomical scare-over-nothing is coming from the woowoo sector: some people are saying the NASA spacecraft Galileo will ignite Jupiter into a nuclear bomb next Sunday! I will try to remain polite here and just say this is hugely, grossly, completely and utterly wrong, wrong, wrong. Here's why.

September 7, 2003:
I received an email written up like a press release from a group calling themselves L.E.M.U.R. (the League of Energy Materialization and Unexplained phenomena Research). They claimed that NASA footage shows some sort of giant object on the Moon emitting a huge puff of black smoke.

Needless to say, I was skeptical.

Turns out that the puff of smoke doesn't exist. It looks like the L.E.M.U.R. group misinterpreted several things they were seeing. I have a new page describing the whole situation. We're also discussing this on the Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board. Join in!

September 3, 2003:
You may have heard that there was a small (one in a million) chance that asteroid 2003 QQ47 was going to impact the Earth in 2014. Well, it ain't gonna happen (this time). Further observations have eliminated the possibility of a 2014 impact. Get used to hearing this sort of thing; it'll happen again. Early observations of an asteroid or comet can yield an approximate orbit for it. Sometimes it looks like that orbit means the rock will hit us. However, it takes time to get a really good orbit; as more observations are made, the orbit is refined. In this case, it means that slim chance went to none.

If you want to read more about this incident, I suggest The JPL Impact Risk page. It's their job to keep track of such things. Also, there is Benny Peiser's website where he collects news essays about asteroid dangers (currently, he is a bit behind in getting the news posted, but check back soon for more).

So breathe easy. Until next time!

August 27, 2003:
So, are you here because a web search on "egg" and "equinox" pointed you this way (and "" doesn't exist)? I heard that "The West Wing" repeated the show about standing eggs on end tonight. If you want to know more about this myth, check out my web page about it. I still have up the blurb from when the show first aired in the spring. :-)

Also, today Mars was closest to the Earth than it has been in 60,000 years, which means, of course, lots of Bad Astronomy getting spread around. Did you feel any earthquakes or other odd effects from Mars? No, you didn't, and here's why. You can also read about other silliness being told about this event.

August 26, 2003:
fake! fake! fake! fake! A fake image of the recent power blackout in the US northeast has been making the web rounds the past week. Yes, it's a fake. For one, the blackout wasn't total; there was still plenty of artificial light to be seen in real satellite images. Second, upon enlargement the image shows artifacts that are a tell-tale sign of manipulation. Someone took Photoshop or something like it and blacked out the region.

Real images of the blackout from space were posted by the NOAA, and can be found on the website. Also, NASAWatch mentions them as well (scroll down to the August 23 entry). And remember, when you see stuff like this, alway always check the Snopes Urban Legend website first! They have a page about this image as well.

August 20, 2003:
On Thursday night at 11:00 p.m. (Eastern), I will be a guest on the show "Unscrewed" which is on the TechTV network. The show is pretty irreverant and silly, and I lambaste the Moon Hoax and Planet X. Check the TechTV/Unscrewed website for more information (warning: not for the wee ones; if you're under 18, well, you'll look anyway, I know I was under 18 once too. But you shouldn't). They have also posted an article I wrote to accompany the segment.

August 16, 2003:
After some unresolvable issues with my webhost, I decided to move the Bad Astronomy website to a new host. This type of thing is usually transparent to the user; you will not see any difference at all when you go to the website. You just type in the URL and you see the site. I made the move on August 15th, so the fact that you are reading this means you are seeing the site on the new machine! It generally takes 3 days or so for computers across the world to figure out the site has moved to a new machine.

However, the Bulletin Board is back up!

August 13, 2003:

Man from Mars! You may have heard that Mars will be getting pretty close to Earth in the next couple of weeks. You may have also heard that it will be as big as the full Moon, and will cause earthquakes and tidal waves! Can this be true? Okay, first, take a look at the name of this website. Got it? Good. So you know the answer already. But you still might want to read the Bad News page to get the details of this event.

August 12, 2003:
Ironically, in in my latest Bad Astronomy Newsletter, I converted from kilometers to miles incorrectly. I said a neutron star was between 10 - 15 kilometers in diameter, but it's actually 25 - 40 kilometers. The reason it's ironic is because that newsletter itself was sent out to correct an error in the newsletter before it. I hate annoying little errors like that. Oh well, at least I'm not designing space probes! (If you want to read that issue, you'll have to join Yahoo!Groups. I'll be switching to better newsletter software very soon).

August 2, 2003:
No, I haven't seen the new "Tomb Raider" movie yet. But I did see the first one, and I even reviewed it. So if you're into nostalgia, see what I had to say about it.

June 9, 2003:
I will be on the radio show "The Edge" tonight (Monday June 9) from 9-10:00 p.m. Pacific time (midnight to 1:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern) talking about Nancy Lieder's Planet X endgame. You can listen online live.

June 3, 2003:
I added a new book to the Bad Astronomy Bookstore: The Universe: 365 Days, which is now one of my very favorite astronomy books. This book comes with my highest recommendation; take a look!

May 13, 2003:
Coming here from the "Coast to Coast" show?
Confused? You should be; Ms. Lieder can spout more nonsense in a minute than I could debunk in an hour. But here are some links that might help you sort what she says from what's happening in the real world.

A Planet X FAQ A review of Ms. Lieder
The Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board about PX Links to other sites debunking Ms. Lieder's outrageous claims

May 12, 2003 (updated news from May 6):
On May 13 at 11:00 p.m. Pacific Time, I will be on the "Coast to Coast AM" radio show once again to debunk the silliness that is Planet X. At first, it was going to be a debate between me and the Queen of PX Nonsense, Nancy Lieder. Then the producers decided they only wanted me on for three hours. Now it appears that the first hour will in fact be a debate between us, and the last two hours will be just me. Ms. Lieder, of course, has her own spin on this, saying I am accepting this debate under duress, which is patently false. I look forward to it.

In honor of this, I have written a page summarizing most of the major scientific arguments against Planet X entitled, cleverly, "The Planet X Scientific Arguments in a Nutshell". This page may be of use to people who are either sitting on the fence about Planet X, or know people who are. There are links aplenty on the page to other sites as well.

To see what radio stations broadcast the show, check out the C2C affiliates list.

Also, an article about Planet X has been posted on the NASA Ames web site by noted asteroid astronomer David Morrison. He has been getting lots of email lately asking about Planet X, which is no surprise; he specializes in objects passing near the Earth. He says, of course, it isn't true, and has a link to the Bad Astronomy website. Here is the webpage. Enjoy!

May 5, 2003:
I am sometimes accused of hating movies, because I sometimes get a little mean when I review them. Nothing could be further from the truth, so I wrote a page about movies I like in my own defense.

April 23, 2003:
This is pretty cool: on this week's episode of "West Wing" on NBC, a running theme throughout the show dealt with standing eggs on end. At the end of the show, one of the characters looks up the words "egg" and "equinox" on the web... and says it sent him to "". I happen to know better; another character read off the screen, and it said "This has to be one of the silliest misconceptions around, and it never seems to die." That is a direct quote off my egg standing page! So hey, if my website is good enough for the staff of the fictitious White House, it's good enough for anybody. Welcome.

April 17, 2003:
Well, it's just a few weeks away from Nancy Lieder's self-imposed deadline for the passage of Planet X. Despite a rash of images posted to her website, there has not been a single positively identified image of Planet X. That doesn't surprise me, as it doesn't exist. The images on her site are all pretty obviously either fakes (in some cases) or misidentified objects (most others), such as internal reflections in the camera or just plain old stars. Her cult is starting to implode, with many of her acolytes questioning her openly now, which was unheard of just a few weeks ago. Thankfully, a lot of people are finding this site and others debunking this nonsense, and are starting to see reality. Are you a follower of Ms. Lieder, or someone who now sees her for what she really is (that is, wrong)? Come talk about it with others!

April 3, 2003:
rotten to The Core Of course, you knew I'd have to give a Bad Astronomy review of The Core, didn't you? I watched the movie on its opening weekend, but it took me a few days to compose my thoughts. I probably spent more time thinking about the science of the movie than the writers did. Oh well, it was still a moderately enjoyable flick.

March 25, 2003:
The Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board is back up! After much pain and a few late nights, I have upgraded the software. All the old posts should still be there, and anyone who had registered before should find everything to be where it was.

March 22, 2003:
Big news! I have moved the website to a new server, which should provide faster access, and the ability for me to do some fun things in the near future, like redo the Bad Astronomy Newsletter and add other features. There will be some bumps in the road (for example, the Bad Briefs page has some broken links) but I hope to get all those cleared out in the next few days. Please be patient, and stick around! I'll be announcing the new stuff very soon.

March 19, 2003:
3 eggs standing, not on the vernal equinox! Wow, is it almost the Vernal Equinox again? According to The U.S. Naval Observatory it is! So, on March 21st at 01:00 Universal Time, will you be able to stand an egg on end? Read here to find out!

NEWS ALERT March 13, 2003
image of Shuttle from Armageddon Sometimes, Bad Astronomy really ticks me off. Some person is circulating images supposedly from an Israeli satellite showing the Space Shuttle Columbia breaking up. I have received over a dozen emails about this. These images are fake. In fact, they are from the opening scenes of the awful movie "Armageddon". The pictures are real enough looking that people are wondering if they are legitimate, but they are not. Think about it: it's been over a month since the Shuttle was destroyed. Why would it take so long to get these images? The image above is one of the images circulated.

I just spent the day at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, where they push technology and engineering of atmospheric and space flight to its limits. To see such wonderous things as I did today, then to find email like this in my Inbox, well, it really makes me mad.

BIG ALERT! (March 7, 2003)
I was interviewed by the crew of "60 Minutes Australia" (the Oz version of the U.S. news show) about the Moon hoax. They also interviewed Moon hoax sillyman Bart Sibrel, pro-Apollo author Jim Oberg, and, well, no adjective can really do justice to Richard Hoagland, who thinks that the Moon landings were real, because he says astronauts saw evidence of alien bases on the Moon. Make of that what you will. The "60 Minutes Australia" program, I think, shows the woowoo side of this ridiculousness in a fair light; that is, it will show these people to be wrong.

It airs Sunday (Eastern Australian Daylight Time), and there is a preview of the commercial on the show's website. The guy in the red shirt is me. :-) After the show airs, there is a live chat with Mr. Sibrel. It will be at 1:30 a.m. my time if I have read my atlas correctly, but I might still drop in.

March 2, 2003
I just discovered my old friend Dan Durda will be interviewed on the otherwise woowoo radio show "Coast to Coast A.M." on March 4. (and yes, I've been on a few times myself- sometimes they make a booking mistake and get a guest who can actually talk sense). Dan is an astronomer with a very colorful career: he flies F-18s looking for asteroids that orbit the Sun inside Mercury's orbit. The radio show has a page with more info.

February 21, 2003
I will be interviewed on the radio station KNRC in Boulder, Colorado at 3:00 p.m. Mountain Time on Sunday. The topics will range over a lot of astronomy, including the new WMAP results on the Big Bang. You can also listen online.

February 20, 2003
I finally wrote up my thoughts about The Amazing Meeting, a symposium on critical thinking I attended a few weeks ago. It was, well, an amazing thing! I also posted pictures, too.

February 18, 2003
ALERT! No, this isn't a repeat of the last alert: I will be on "The Edge" tonight at 11-ish Pacific time. This is a call-in radio show, and we'll be talking about the Moon hoax. Around 12 or so I'll sign off, and none other than Bart Sibrel will be on. I would rather go on after him and wipe up the mess he will no doubt make, but on short notice I can't stay up that late! Still, I can anticipate a lot of his arguments, so hopefully I can defuse his silliness before he can even start sillifying. For more info, go to my bulletin board, where there are links on how to listen live and how to call in.

February 11, 2003
ALERT! I was interviewed (Tuesday, Feb 11) on a radio program called "The Edge". We talked about the Moon Hoax, and a "certain conspiracy theorist" who habitually makes incorrect claims about Apollo. The interview went pretty well, in my opinion, and I will post a link when the show is archived on the radio station's website. I have a few more details on the Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board.

February 9, 2003
I was interviewed for an article about the Moon hoax for the New York Times Sunday Magazine (subscribing online to read it is free). In my opinion, the article makes Bart Sibrel seem way too rational in his attempts to show the Apollo landings were faked. In fact, Mr. Sibrel's claims are really ridiculous, and in many cases trivially easy to disprove. Also, I know for a fact that Mr. Sibrel has heard me debunk them, yet he still makes his false claims. What does that say about him? I also know that he lies when it's convenient to his story. So I am not thrilled with the way the article came out, but I urge you to read it anyway. There is some interesting stuff there.

January 29, 2003
Sigh. I had another catastrophic mail failure. Due to a mistake on my part, I accidentally deleted all of the unanswered mail I had from November 27, 2002, through January 27. This is approximately 500 mails! If you were waiting for some sort of reply from me, I am really sorry. I get a lot of mail, obviously, and it can be tough to keep up with it! Then something like this happens. Bleah. Again, my apologies.

January 27, 2003
I recently wrote a news article for Astronomy Magazine's website about a giant planet orbiting a giant star.

January 19, 2003
I added a new page to the Planet X pages about the misuse of astronomical imaging (specifically, the SOHO satellite) to promote Planet X. Also...

"Oh no, the Bad Astronomer has reviewed our movie!" "Signs" is now available at your local video store! I suggest you read my review before renting this stinker. Note: due to the volume of email I have received about this movie, I have given up trying to reply to all of it (I still get email about Armageddon, fer criminy's sake!). I am really sorry about this, but rest assured I read all the email, and if something really compelling comes up I'll try to add it into the review. Thanks!

January 2, 2003
logo for The Amazing Meeting James Randi, a renowned magician and debunker of things that really need debunking (like astrology, dowsing, talkers-to-the-dead like John Edward and more), is holding a convention called The Amazing Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from January 31 to February 2. I will be there, as will many illustrious figures from the fields of science, skepticism, and Rational Thinking. Click on the image above to be whisked to Randi's site, or read my calendar for more info.

Also, an article I wrote about dark matter has been printed in the Boston Globe. For a week or so the article will be online for free, and afterwards will be available only for paid subscribers. Get it while you can! Unfortunately, the neat Chandra images that go with the article are not online. Oh well, you can always browse the image archives yourself.

Archive: 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999

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