Time Zone Map
Atlas Coelestis (Museum of Physics of the University of Bologna)
Out of this World (Linda Hall Library, Kansas City)
See the International Space Station or Iridium Flares
Movie of Moon Phases
See the sky over observatories, live
The official time, usually valid to within a second, is now available on the Web. www.time.gov. The time comes from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory. Random delays in transmission over the Internet provide some uncertainty. International time zones are available from another site: http://www.bsdi.com/date. I especially like the time zone for Nepal, which is 15 minutes off the hourly offset, and 15 minutes also from the time zone for India, which is on a half-hourly offset.
Redshift 3 has been released by Piranha Interactive Publishing and is available through a variety of sources.
Larry Sessions has a nice Web site that tells you what is up.
A comment by the author
Astrology is not connected with astronomy, except in a historical context, so does not really deserve a place in a text on contemporary astronomy. But since so many people associate astrology with astronomy, and since astrologers claim to be using astronomical objects to make their predictions, let us use our knowledge of astronomy and of the scientific method to assess astrology's validity. Since millions of Americans believe in astrology--a number that shows no sign of decreasing--we cannot ignore the matter. Indeed, surveys show belief by adolescents in astrology to be increasing. Astrology, extrasensory perception (ESP), witchcraft, and several other topics of public interest are examples of pseudoscience, a set of topics that masquerades as having a relation to science without having any real scientific content.
Science is also misrepresented to the public by "creationists," who hold that the Earth and everything in the Universe was created only a few thousand years ago. Throughout this book you will learn of the evidence found by astronomers that the Earth and Solar System are about 4.5 billion years old and that the galaxies and the Universe are even older. And you will learn about the methods scientists use to study the Universe and to validate theories. "Creationism" is simply not compatible with today's scientific knowledge and standards.
Astrology is an attempt to predict or explain our actions and personalities on the basis of the positions of the stars and planets now and at the instants of our births. Astrology has been around for a long time, but it has never been shown to work. Believers may cite incidents that reinforce their faith in astrology, but no successful scientific tests have ever been carried out. If something happens to you that you had expected because of an astrological prediction, you would more certainly notice that this event occurred than you would notice the thousands of other unpredicted things that happened to you that day. Yet we do enough things, have sufficiently varied thoughts, and interact with enough people that if we make many predictions in the morning, some of them are likely to be at least partially fulfilled during the day. We simply forget that the rest ever existed.
In fact, even the alignments that many astrologers use are not accurately calculated, since the precession of the Earth's pole has changed the stars that are overhead at a given time of year from what they were millennia ago when astrological tables that are often still in use were computed. At a given time of year, the Sun is usually in a different sign of the zodiac than its traditional astrological one. And we know that the constellations don't even exist as physical objects. They are merely projections of the positions of stars that are usually very different distances from us.
Studies have shown that superstition actively constricts the progress of science and technology in various countries around the world and is therefore not merely an innocuous force. It is not merely that some people harmlessly believe in astrology. Their lack of understanding of scientific structure may actually impede the training of people needed to solve the problems of our age. Widespread superstitious beliefs even impeded smallpox-prevention programs. Thus many scientists are not content to ignore astrology, but actively oppose its dissemination. Further, if large numbers of citizens do not understand the scientific method and the difference between science and pseudoscience, how can they intelligently vote on or respond to scientific questions that have societal implications? The episode in which Nancy Reagan, the wife of the President, consulted an astrologer about her husband's schedule was not only a serious breach of security but also shows how widespread belief in pseudoscience is.
A team of Calstate-Long Beach psychologists arranged for a magician to perform three psychic-like stunts in front of psychology classes. Even when they emphasized to the students that the performer was a magician performing tricks, 50 per cent of the class still believed the magician to be psychic.
Further, astrology just doesn't work. In 1985, Shawn Carlson, a UCLA-Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory physicist, reported on his double-blind controlled test of astrology. As part of the test, 28 astrologers, all highly respected by their peers, were asked to make a total of 116 selections, each matching one "natal chart," a horoscope based on the time and place of birth, to the results of standardized personality surveys for three different people. One of these standardized surveys came from the same person as the natal chart. Though the astrologers themselves predicted that they would get "at least" 50 per cent of these matchings correct, they scored only 34 per cent, precisely what one would expect if astrology did not work at all. Further, even when the astrologers rated a particular standardized survey as fitting the natal chart very well, they were no more likely to be correct. So even in Carlson's controlled experiment, in which he had worked with astrologers to make it a fair test to them, astrology failed.
In sum, astrology is meaningless, unnecessary, and impossible to explain if we accept the broad set of physical laws and theories we have conceived over the years to explain what happens on the Earth and in the sky. In Section 20.6b of the 5th edition, we discuss the structure of science and how closely related it is to Occam's Razor, which states that we accept the simplest satisfactory explanation as true. Astrology snipes at the roots of all pure science. Moreover, astrology patently doesn't work. If people want to believe in astrology on an a priori basis, as a religion, or have a personal astrologer act as a psychologist, let them not try to cloak their beliefs in scientific astronomical gloss. The only reason people may believe that they have seen astrology work is that it is a self-fulfilling means of prophecy, conceived of long ago when we knew less about the exciting things that are going on in the Universe.
Science is more than just a set of facts, since a methodology of investigation and standards of proof are involved, but science is more than just a methodology since many facts have been well established. In this course, you are supposed not only to learn certain facts about the Universe but also to appreciate the way that theories and facts come to be accepted. Let's all learn from the stars, but let's learn the truth!