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Venus continues to recede from Earth, but I hope you’re getting to see Venus and Jupiter shining brilliantly before dawn these days. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate for me on July 15, when I had hoped to see the Venus-Moon-Jupiter conjunction, but since I got to see the 5-20-12 solar eclipse and the 6-4-12 lunar eclipse and greatest of all, the 6-5-12 Venus transit, I won’t complain! I’ll share some Jupiter and Moon photos soon, but here’s a Venus phase update. Beginning with this update, I’m starting with a photo taken during the transit. For earlier Venus photos, consult my “Venus Photos” and “Venus Phases” categories on the right:

5:49 AM CDT July 22, 2012 (10:49 UT)
Angular diameter 31.96 arc seconds
34.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 48,512,519 miles (78,073,332 km)
9:18 AM CDT July 13, 2012 (14:18 UT)
Angular diameter 36.52 arc seconds
27.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 42,450,876 miles (68,318,063 km)
11:56 AM CDT July 3, 2012 (16:56 UT)
Angular diameter 42.79 arc seconds
19.0% illumination
Distance from Earth 36,238,688 miles (58,320,514 km)
11:21 AM CDT June 27, 2012 (16:21 UT)
Angular diameter 47.07 arc seconds
13.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 32,940,927 miles (53,013,283 km)
8:38 AM CDT June 21, 2012 (13:38 UT)
Angular diameter 51.42 arc seconds
7.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 30,154,150 miles (48,528,401 km)
8:57 AM CDT June 12, 2012 (13:57 UT)
Angular diameter 56.46 arc seconds
1.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 27,463,558 miles (44,198,313 km)
7:33 PM CDT June 5, 2012 (00:33 UT June 6, 2012)
Angular diameter 57.78 arc seconds
0.0% illumination, transiting the Sun
Distance from Earth 26,836,379 miles (43,188,966 km)
Projection method with 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece

Unless otherwise noted, 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow, LG VX8360 cell phone camera.


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The Moon, Jupiter, and Venus form a graceful arc before dawn at 5:05 AM CDT July 14, 2012. On the morning of July 15th, the Moon will be close in between Jupiter and Venus. IMPORTANT: If you’re viewing from parts of Asia, Europe, or North Africa, you may witness an occultation of Jupiter by the Moon on the morning of the 15th. Details and map here:

15 July 2012 Occultation of Jupiter

Above, from left to right: Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Europa. Io was transiting Jupiter at the time. 5:06 AM CDT July 14, 2012 (10:06 UT).

Above: Waning crescent Moon at 5:28 AM CDT July 14, 2012 (10:28 UT). 8″ reflector telescope with 25mm eyepiece.
Below: Closeups with added 2x Barlow:

5:17 AM.

5:24 AM.

5:16 AM.

All with LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

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The planet Venus, silhouetted against the Sun, during the 2012 Transit of Venus. 7:20 PM CDT June 5, 2012 (00:20 UT June 6, 2012), projected onto a paperboard screen with a 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece, photographed with an LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge. This is but one small document of this truly momentous celestial event which I was privileged to witness and which I will never see again.

I’ll post a more detailed report as time allows, but one thing I’d like to share right now is that the simple, lowly projection method was even more effective than this photo might suggest. When the sky was clearest (we had some thin haze at first, but not enough to block our view, thank God), the crisp disk of Venus didn’t just look like a circle cut out of the Sun, but really looked like it was a separate object suspended in front of the Sun!

One more thing I’ll tell you right now: I’m truly looking forward to the Mercury transits of May 9, 2016 and November 11, 2019!

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8:05 PM CDT March 25, 2012 (1:05 UT 3-26-12). 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click for larger view.

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As I promised in a post last November 8th, I am finally beginning a project of examining some of the key, convoluted arguments in Zeitgeist: the Movie. It will take awhile to unravel, but it will be unravelled indeed when I’m through with it. Please be patient, as I will be doing this in little bits, and I don’t know how long it’ll take, or in how many parts. And I won’t be discussing points in the order presented in the film. As when untangling tangled yarn, the first knot at which I pick is not necessarily at the end of the strand, nor at the deepest part of the knot.

The original movie as well as subsequent movies may be accessed at the Zeitgeist Film Series Gateway, along with Source Guides, which comprise transcripts of the films with extensive annotations designed to explain and defend the assertions in the movies. Here’s the link:

The original 2007 movie is in three parts, Part I arguing that teaching about Jesus found in Christianity are derived from various sources in ancient religion, tradition, and astrology; Part II arguing that the US Government had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, and may have perpetrated the attacks; and Part III asserting connections between several wars, the Federal Reserve Bank, and “international bankers,” but since I have not watched Part III I will make no further comment.

My chief attention will be to part I, but here are two comments on Part II. Here is a YouTube excerpt from Part II, along with a transcript from the Source Guide, of a section which includes a rapid-fire montage of members of the George W. Bush Administration repeatedly using the word “terrorism,” etc.:

[Terrorism: 1) systematic use of terror, manifesting itself in violence or intimidation, for generating fear.]
“Armed with knives. Armed with chemical, biological; nuclear weapons. Fanatics. Terrorists. September 11th. September 11th. Killers. September 11th. Terrorists. Terrorists. Al Qaeda. Terrorists. Nuclear weapons. Terror. 9/11. Terror. Terror. Terror. Evil.”
“September 11th. September 11th. The terrorists. War and danger. September 11th. Terrorism. Global terrorism. Terrorism. Terrorist. Terrorist. Terrorist. Terrorist. Terrorist. The terrorists. Terrorists. Terrorists. Terrorism. September 11th. Global terrorism. Terrorism. Terrorism. Terrorists. September 11th. World terrorism. Terrorists. Terrorism. September 11th. Global Terrorism.
“September the 11th. Terrorist. Terrorist. Terrorist. Terrorist. Terrorist. Weapons of mass destruction. September the 11th. September the 11th. Terrorists. The evil terrorists. Terrorists. Terrorists know.”
-“Terrorism. The words are hypnotically repeated. Terrorism. Terrorist. Terrorist threat. And of course, believe-to-be-linked-to-al-Qaeda. But, it’s the so-called War on Terrorism that’s in our faces practically 24/7 as the inescapable focus of our existence.”

This section includes 38 uses of “terror,” “terrorist,” or “terrorism,” in most cases just the single word alone, with no clue as to the context. Indeed, to isolate a single word is the consummate act of taking something out of context, though I suppose it could be topped by isolating a single syllable or letter from that word. Furthermore, the argument here is that the words are being “hypnotically repeated,” but let me point out some simple math: Since the movie came out in 2007, let’s say that each of these mini sound bites came from a period of about 1600 days between September 11, 2001, until the early months of 2006. In order to produce all 38 “hypnotically repeated” uses of “terror” and its variants, members of the Bush Administration would have had to use the words only once every 42 days, which is not remarkable. The Bush Administration did not bring “terrorism” into public discourse. I’m approaching 47, nearly old enough now to qualify as a primary source for oral history of “the old days.” For example, I remember when Watergate was current news, though admittedly as a kid the part I remember most lucidly was the daily mention of H.R. Haldeman, whose name I could never get used to, since to my juvenile ears the initials H.R. already belonged to Mr. Pufnstuf.

But I digress. I clearly remember terrorism being commonly mentioned in the news as early as the Carter Administration in the late 1970s, so you could probably dig up 38 or so examples of President Carter and others saying the word if you tried hard enough.

The only other comment I’ll make about Part II is that Professor Steven Dutch of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has addressed several features of 9-11 conspiracy theories well at this page:

Nutty 9-11 Physics

Finally, the remainder of this post and all subsquent Zeitgeist-related posts will focus on Part I.

I will start with this excerpt, here quoted from the Source Guide:

26. First of all, the birth sequence is completely astrological. The star in the east is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which, on December 24th, aligns with the three brightest stars in Orion’s Belt. These three bright stars in Orion’s belt are called today what they were called in ancient times: The Three Kings. The Three Kings and the brightest star, Sirius, all point to the place of the sunrise on December 25th. This is why the Three Kings “follow” the star in the east, in order to locate the sunrise—the birth of the sun.

The text above is spoken beginning at about 6:07 here:

Two comments:

1. Sirius is indeed in rough alignment with the three stars of Orion’s belt (or the “Three Kings”) on December 24th, and 25th … and is in exactly the same rough alignment on March 28th … and August 5 … and October 31st … and February 29th … and every single date of the calendar! Stars are not like the planets and Moon, which wander through Earth’s sky, moving in and out of alignment and conjunction. To our eyes they remain fixed in their places in the sky, and because of their immense distance from Earth, it will take many thousands of years before there is any change in their apparent position due to their proper motion. Sirius “on December 24th, aligns with the three brightest stars in Orion’s Belt,” my foot! Sirius is over 8 light years from Earth and is completely unaffected by the arrival of December 24 or any other date in Earth’s year.

2. Speaking of December 24 and 25, there are exactly 0 (zero) verses in the Bible which claim that Jesus was born on December 25. It is entirely a matter of custom and tradition, not of dogma.

I believe I know the basis of the following quote, which I will discuss next time:

The Three Kings and the brightest star, Sirius, all point to the place of the sunrise on December 25th.

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International Observe the Moon Night hasn’t turned out the way I hoped – it’s overcast and drippy here. Oh, well. Here’s my most recent good Moon photo, from 11:52 PM 10-6-11 (4:52 UTC 10-7-11):

As usual, 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click for larger view. It was a bit windy, so I’m happy it was possible to capture this photo at all.

Purported changes in the Moon’s orbit and orientation continue to be a hot topic, and lots of people are finding their way to my site while researching the issue. I’ll try to post more on the issue soon, but here’s a good video from the Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio which illustrates the normal changes in the Moon’s appearance during the course of the year 2011, as viewed from Earth:

The video appeared in this good explanatory article:
One Year of the Moon in 2.5 Minutes
Thanks to Mr. AV North Media, who inquired about the subject and shared the above link with me here.

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This article was first published in the West Douglas County Record on March 25, 2010:

An old Mac Davis song from the 1970s says, “It’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.” The song is filled with mock boasting, and Mr. Davis clearly didn’t intend it to be taken seriously. If we look at that key phrase seriously, though, we find that it really isn’t true, is it? The Bible tells us that there is one Person who is perfect in every way, and He also is the most humble of all: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)”

That cross upon which He died is the altar upon which the final sacrifice was made for all of our sins, and the sins of the whole world. Most Christian churches have altars and crosses, and most of them are very nice. At Chippewa Church we have a beautiful old-fashioned altarpiece painted white, with a large picture of Christ the Good Shepherd. The Lord’s Supper is served from our altar, and we place our offerings upon it after the collection. Other churches also have altars, some fancier than ours and some plainer, but all of them very nice and kept clean and polished in order to honor God.

But the altars at the Temple in Jerusalem in Old Testament times were not “nice.” They were the site of bloody animal sacrifices; the atmosphere would have seemed more like a slaughterhouse than a church in many ways. The cross upon which Jesus died wasn’t beautiful like the ones adorning our churches or worn around our necks; it was soaked with blood, not polished with Lemon Pledge. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:22 ESV)” With His finished work on the cross, Jesus won salvation and full forgiveness for us. No more bloody sacrifice is needed, so we can keep our crosses and altars clean and neat. Let us do so in order to bring glory to God and not to ourselves. “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God, all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”

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