Astronomy: Myths and Fallacies

Under construction            The Historical Search for New Planets                               
Myth making among astronomers

neptune2The usual mythical presentation on the Discovery of Neptune:
According to Wiki: “The planet Neptune was mathematically predicted before it was directly observed. With a prediction by Urbain Le Verrier, telescopic observations confirming the existence of a major planet were made on the night of September 2324, 1846,[1] at the Berlin Observatory, by astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle (assisted by Heinrich Louis d’Arrest), working from Le Verrier’s calculations. It was a sensational moment of 19th century science and dramatic confirmation of Newtonian gravitational theory. In Franois Arago’s apt phrase, Le Verrier had discovered a planet “with the point of his pen”.”

Gravitational Perturbations and the Prediction of New Planets says: “If we account carefully for all known gravitational perturbations on the motion of observed planets and the motion of the planet still deviates from the prediction, there are two options:

1. Newton’s Law of Gravitation requires modification,

2. There is a previously undetected mass that is perturbing the orbits of the observed planets.

We will see that the history of astronomy following the introduction of Newton’s Law of Gravitation  gives examples of both.”

Things are not as straightforward as some modern science writers would have us believe. The discovery of Neptune fuelled controversy in its day as can be seen here:
Also here:….23..261H

Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Boston): 1, 57-68, at 65. The article concludes its review of Peirce’s examination of the discovery of Neptune, with its own emphasis: “From these data, without any hypothesis in regard to the character of the orbit, he has arrived at the conclusion, that THE PLANET NEPTUNE IS NOT THE PLANET TO WHICH GEOMETRICAL ANALYSIS HAD DIRECTED THE TELESCOPE; that its orbit is not contained within the limits of space which have been explored by geometers searching for the source of the disturbances of Uranus; and that its discovery by Galle must be regarded as a happy accident.”

Neptune was first observed by Galle and d’Arrest on 1846 Sept 23 very near to the locations independently predicted by Adams and Le Verrier from calculations based on the observed positions of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. An international dispute arose between the English and French (though not, apparently between Adams and Le Verrier personally) over priority and the right to name the new planet; they are now jointly credited with Neptune’s discovery. Subsequent observations have shown that the orbits calculated by Adams and Le Verrier diverge from Neptune’s actual orbit fairly quickly. Had the search for the planet taken place a few years earlier or later it would not have been found anywhere near the predicted location.

The newspaper cartoons of the day caricatured blindfolded astronomers looking away from a vivid Neptune,  groping  and it seems the world and his wife were aware that the astronomers were pulling a fast one; unlike today when every uttered word is believed.

Charles Fort
Charles Hoy Fort (1874 – 1932) was an American writer and researcher in anomalous phenomena. He ransacked the libraries for anomalous material in the scientific periodicals that where grist for the Fortean mill. The discovery of Neptune on September 23-24, 1846, would have been an obvious target and well documented. He had at the time, a recent history untainted by today’s scientistic revisions.

Charles Hoy Fort

Charles Fort and contemporary reports on the discovery of Neptune:
“In The Story of the Heavens, Sir Robert Ball’s opinion of the discovery of Neptune is that it is a triumph unparalleled in the annals of science. He lavishes–the great astronomer Leverrier, buried for months in profound meditations–the dramatic moment–Leverrier rises from his calculations and points to the sky–“Lo!” there a new planet is found.
My desire is not so much to agonize over the single fraudulencies or delusions, as to typify the means by which the science of Astronomy has established and maintained itself: According to Leverrier, there was a planet external to Uranus; according to Hansen, there were two; according to Airy, “doubtful if there were one.”

One planet was found–so calculated Leverrier, in his profound meditations.
Suppose two had been found–confirmation of the brilliant computations by Hansen.
None–the opinion of the great astronomer, Sir George Airy.
Leverrier calculated that the hypothetic planet was at a distance from the sun, within the limits of 35 and 37.9 times this earth’s distance from the sun. The new planet was found in a position said to be 30 times this earth’s distance from the sun. The discrepancy was so great that, in the United States, astronomers refused to accept that Neptune had been discovered by means of calculation: see such publications as the American Journal of Science, of the period.

Upon Aug. 29, 1849, Dr. Babinet read, to the French Academy, a paper in which he showed that, by the observations of three years, the revolution of Neptune would have to be placed at 165 years. Between the limits of 207 and 233 years was the period that Leverrier had calculated. Simultaneously, in England, Adams had calculated. Upon Sept. 2, 1846, after he had, for at least a month, been charting the stars in the region toward which Adams had pointed, Prof. Challis wrote to Sir George Airy that this work would occupy his time for three more months. This indicates the extent of the region toward which Adams had pointed.

The discovery of the asteroids, or in Prof. Chase’s not very careful language, the discovery of the “asteroidal belt as deduced from Bode’s Law”: We learn that Baron Von Zach had formed a society of twenty-four astronomers to search, in accordance with Bode’s Law, for “a planet”–and not “a group,” not “an asteroidal belt”–between Jupiter and Mars. The astronomers had organized, dividing the zodiac into twenty-four zones, assigning each zone to an astronomer. They searched. They found not one asteroid. Seven or eight hundred are now known.

Philosophical Magazine, 12-62: That Piazzi, the discoverer of the first asteroid, had not been searching for a hypothetic body, as deduced from Bode’s Law, but, upon an investigation of his own, had been charting stars in the constellation Taurus, night of Jan. 1, 1801. He noticed a light that he thought had moved, and, with his mind a blank, so far as asteroids and brilliant deductions were concerned, announced that he had discovered a comet.

As an instance of the crafty way in which some astronomers now tell the story, see Sir Robert Ball’s Story of the Heavens, p. 230: The organization of the astronomers of Lilienthal, but never a hint that Piazzi was not one of them–“the search for a small planet was soon rewarded by a success that has rendered the evening of the first day of the nineteenth century memorable in astronomy.” Ball tells of Piazzi’s charting of the stars, and makes it appear that Piazzi had charted stars as a means of finding asteroids deductively, rewarded soon by success, whereas Piazzi had never heard of such a search, and did not know an asteroid when he saw one. “This laborious and accomplished astronomer had organized an ingenious system of exploring the heavens, which was eminently calculated to discriminate a planet among the starry host … at length he was rewarded by a success which amply compensated him for all his toil.”

Prof. Chase–these two great instances not of mere discovery, but of discovery by means of calculation, according to him–now the subject of his supposition that he, too, could calculate triumphantly–the verification depended upon the accuracy of Prof. Swift and Prof. Watson in recording the positions of the bodies that they had announced–

Sidereal Messenger, 6-84:
Prof. Colbert, Superintendent of Dearborn Observatory, leader of the party of which Prof. Swift was a member, says that the observations by Swift and Watson agreed, because Swift had made his observations agree with Watson’s. The accusation is not that Swift had falsely announced a discovery of two unknown bodies, but that his precise determining of positions had occurred after Watson’s determinations had been published.

Popular Astronomy, 7-13:
Prof. Asaph Hall writes that, several days after the eclipse, Prof. Watson told him that he had seen “a” luminous body near the sun, and that his declaration that he had seen two unknown bodies was not made until after Swift had been heard from. Perched upon two delusions, Prof. Chase crowed his false raptures. The unknown bodies, whether they ever had been in the orbit of his calculations or not, were never seen again.” New Lands, by Charles Fort

Unashamed revisionism:

The Accidental Discovery of Pluto “Later, similar calculations on supposed perturbations of the orbits of Uranus and Neptune suggested the presence of yet another planet beyond the orbit of Neptune. Eventually, in 1930, a new planet Pluto was discovered, but we now know that the calculations in this case were also in error because of an incorrect assumption about the mass of the new planet…”

Effects Beyond Newtonian Perturbations The power of Newton’s theory became apparent as detailed calculations accounted more and more precisely for the orbits of the planets. Any deviations from the expected behavior soon became viewed as evidence for unseen masses in the Solar System. However, later observations of anomalies in the orbit of Mercury could not be accounted for by the gravitational perturbation of a new planet (the hypothetical new planet, which turned out not to exist, was called Vulcan). As we discuss in the next section, early in this century this forced the replacement of Newton’s Law of Gravitation with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.”

The deviation in the orbit of Mercury was later found to be, ‘maybe’ not solved at all by Einstein’s theory and there is still a measure of obfuscation regarding both its cause and the extent to which GR can explain it.

Some interesting contemporary reports with thanks to who have a long list of astronomical incompetence’s:

A rare astronomical report from the fifties. These now have ‘answers’ thanks to Albert Einstein :
The Washington Reporter – Jan 2, 1952
Astronomers’ Scan Skies Seeking Tenth Planet X
“He says (Dr. Levitt) scientists have observed that Neptune is being lifted above it’s normal path in the heavens and that the cause may well be a huge tenth or perhaps even an eleventh planet slowly circling in space millions of miles beyond the present known limits of the solar system. “Perhaps in the near future, (they always say that) “Dr. Levitt declares, “astronomers will again be pointing their telescopes to predetermined points searching for the point of light called Planet X.”

The Nevada Daily Mail – Apr 26, 1972 (With Einstein’s help)
Planet X Delays Comet’s Arrival
“Intolerable errors” in the predicted timetable of Halley’s Comet have led a University of California scientific team to believe a 10th planet may be circling the sun beyond Pluto – outermost known planet in the solar system.
Three computer scientists at the University’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory said Friday their prediction of the planet’s existence is based on mathematical calculations related to the orbit of the mysterious comet.

As we can see, astronomers have never predicted anything and it is due to the revisionists fabrications that a mathematical-prediction-mythology persists.

The falsehoods of the astronomers are only equalled by those of the physicists.

The unreliable observations of the 1950’s, that were shown to be wrong by NASA probes are comparable to, and paralleled by, the equally unreliable observations of pulsars, neutron stars, quasars, black holes etc., of today. But today’s astronomer’s confidence that they know it all, is still about equal to that of the fifties astronomers. Physical theories are “proven” by these nebulous, theoretical, constructs, proffered with the certain knowledge that NASA is not going there any time soon, to prove them wrong.

Velikovsky Menzel and some hilarious astronomical history, of the 1950’s-60’s
Donald Menzel (US astronomer and UFO debunker extraordinaire) was angered by the Bargmann-Motz letter in Science, 14a (supporting the predictions of Immanuel Velikovsky) considering it to be ‘uncalled for. ‘ He seemed infuriated that Larrabee, Velikovsky’s book reviewer, in one noncommittal passage had called attention to an ironical situation: in 1952, in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Menzel had offered calculations to show that if Velikovsky were right about electromagnetic forces in the solar system, the sun would have to have a surface electric potential of 10 to the 19 (10 raised to 19th power, 10 billion billion volts) – an absolute impossibility, according to the astronomer; but in 1960, V. A. Bailey, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney, claimed that the sun is electrically charged, and that it has a surface potential of 10 to the 19 volts — precisely the value calculated by Menzel. Bailey, at the time his theory was first published, was entirely unaware of Velikovsky’s work and of Menzel’s repudiation of it.
(Professor Bailey died December 7, 1964, in Switzerland – he was en route to the United states, where he hoped to see experiments carried out in space to test his hypotheses)

The idea that his ‘quantitative refutation of Velikovsky’s wild hypothesis’ – Menzel’s own description of his contribution to the Proceedings in 1952 – should now be brought to Velikovsky’s support was intolerable to the Harvard astronomer. So, when he mailed his paper to Harper’s in 1963, he also sent a copy to Bailey in Sydney and asked him in a covering letter to revoke his theory of electric charge on the sun. That theory was casting doubt on the continuing efforts of Menzel and other American scientists to discredit Velikovsky, and Menzel pointed out what he conceived to be an error in Bailey’s work.
Professor Bailey, taking exception to the idea that his own work should be abandoned to accommodate the anti-Velikovsky forces, prepared an article in rebuttal of Menzel’s piece and submitted it to Harper’s for publication in the same issue with Menzel’s. Bailey had discovered a simple arithmetical error in Menzel’s calculations, which invalidated his argument.”

The Digging Dog