Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Bunch of Grapes

"The Sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do."

- Galileo

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Today in Astronomy

Giovanni Domenico Cassini died on this day in 1712 in Paris. He was an Italian mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and astrologer. Cassini, also known as Giandomenico Cassini, was born on June 8, 1625 in Perinaldo, near Sanremo, at that time in the Republic of Genoa.

Cassini was an astronomer at the Panzano Observatory, from 1648 to 1669. He was a professor of astronomy at the University of Bologna and became, in 1671, director of the Paris Observatory. He thoroughly adopted his new country, to the extent that he became interchangeably known as Jean-Dominique Cassini —although that is also the name of his great-grand-son.

Along with Robert Hooke, Cassini is given credit for the discovery of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter (ca. 1665). Cassini was the first to observe four of Saturn's moons, which he called Sidera Lodoicea; he also discovered the Cassini Division (1675). Around 1690, Cassini was the first to observe differential rotation within Jupiter's atmosphere.

In 1672 he sent his colleague Jean Richer to Cayenne, French Guiana, while he himself stayed in Paris. The two made simultaneous observations of Mars and thus found its parallax to determine its distance, thus measuring for the first time the true dimensions of the solar system.

Cassini was the first to make successful measurements of longitude by the method suggested by Galileo, using eclipses of the satellites of Jupiter as a clock.

Named after Cassini

For more information visit the Astronomy Compendium.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Moon became Mind, and Entered the Heart.

Atman, the Creator, made Fire, Wind, Sun, Moon, and other divinities.

They said to him: ‘Find out for us an abode wherein we may be established and may eat food.’ He led up a bull to them. They said: ‘Verily, this is not sufficient for us.’ He led up a horse to them. They said: ‘Verily, this is not sufficient for us.’ He led up a person to them. They said: ‘Oh! well done!’—Verily, a person is a thing well done.— He said to them: ‘Enter into your respective abodes.’

Fire became speech, and entered the mouth.

Wind became breath, and entered the nostrils.

The Sun became sight, and entered the eyes.

The Moon became mind, and entered the heart.

The Moon: Myth and Image

By Jules Cashford, p. 118

Hindu myth circa eighth to sixth century BCE.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Irish Blessing

“May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door.”

- Irish Blessing