link to Home Page


Subject: Another Night in Vancouver aka Planet X
Date: Wed, 09 May 2001

Interesting program tonight folks... I think you'll like it. First off, I attended a meeting tonight (May 8) hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada at the H.R. Macmillan Space Center where Ray Villard (director of public relations of the Space Telescope Science Institute ((operated for NASA By Aura)) who manages the public information activities for the Hubble Space Telescope) was giving an update presentation on the Hubble. The presentation lasted about 1 1/2hrs with an audience of maybe 200-300 hundred. He showed many neat new unpublished shots from the beloved Hubble. Mr Villard is an excellent speaker and the whole presentation was great and very entertaining.

Points of interest. It appears that NASA now believes that there is a repulsion force which exists in conjunction with gravity based on observations from the Hubble according to Mr. Villard. This sure should be news to Nancy! Apparently the universe is expanding faster than it should be according to conventional physics, laws etc. and may confirm what Einstein thought all along because by his (Einstein's) calculations the planets in our solar system should not be able to hold their present orbits without eventually spinning in to the sun. Also he showed a shot of two celestial bodies (I can't remember if it was a sun and a planet or two planets) that he said were much closer than they should be according to our present formulas. Apparently caused a lot of thinking at NASA. Or so says Mr. Villard...

At the end of the presentation I asked how the repulsion force would affect current calculations regarding the orbits of planets in out solar system and our moon in relation to earth. He said that the moon would not fly off and that the effects of this repulsion force would mostly come into play at large distances. I would think the force would be greater the closer two objects are but maybe gravity cancels it more so the effects are less observable. I have no idea. I also asked if NASA was afraid to show any pictures from the Hubble to the public. He jokingly replied "Just the ones with the ufos's!". Everyone had a good laugh. In a more serious tone he said that sometimes they have objects that pass in front of the scope and which they have no idea what it is...

Bear with me folks. At the end of the presentation, one of the staff from the R.A.S.C. informed the audience that the Gordon Macmillan Observatory would be closed for at least until the summer. Apparently all the optics, mechanics, computers, software etc. are being changed as well as some intrusive pipeline construction that is going on about 5ft from the observatory. Go figure... I thought everything looked pretty new and modern last time I was there but I guess this expensive stuff needs to be replaced on a pretty regular basis!

Cookies and coffee were to follow in the building adjacent to the observatory. I looked in where the telescope was and everything was gone except the shell of the scope which was pointing straight up. The doors were locked with a big sign that said "OBSERVATORY CLOSED, KEEP OUT" etc.. Since there were so many astronomers there I decided to ask some people (2 of which were staff of the R.A.S.C.) and one other guy if an object could be accurately located if someone gave only the RA/Dec to a competent operator at a modern observatory. The answer was yes in all cases. In fact appears that this is an extremely accurate method of locating an object according to the nice and helpful people I spoke to. So that makes four knowledgeable astronomers that I have asked this question and come back with a positive answer.

Strange lights in the sky... probably just pie...