Around the first part of the year, it seems the media was struck by an epidemic of printing old news as if it were brand new and somewhat earthshaking. It began with the startling report that, due to the precession of the equinoxes, the astrological signs no longer coincide with the constellations they are named after. Not only that, but the Sun’s path passes through the constellation of Ophiuchus, so that should also be a sign of the Zodiac.
These amazing facts were supposedly suddenly discovered early in 2011 by an astronomer in Minnesota. Never mind that precession, and the fact that the signs and constellations don’t match up any longer, has been used as an argument against astrology for at least 50 years. In 1970, an author named Steven Schmidt published a book called Astrology 14. In this book, he explained the presession problem and insisted, on the basis of IAU constellation boundaries established in 1930, that Ophiuchus and Cetus should also be astrological signs.
I won’t bother to refute this refutation here, but the point is, it was not exactly hot news. About the same time, pundits announced that some people were likely to have heart attacks over the Super Bowl. Really? I remember people having heart attacks over football games—especially bad calls—back in the ’50s. Nothing new here, either.
And then there was the business with Betelgeuse. It has been known for many, many years that this giant star in the constellation of Orion is ripe to become a supernova, probably in the next million years or so.
But what if it happened in 2012, the year of Mayan-foretold doom? Suddenly, 2012 was the favored year for such an event. According to an article on news.com.au, the explosion will briefly result in Earth having a second sun, just like Tatooine in Star Wars.
When the star does go, it won’t be bigger than a point of light or brighter than a full moon —hardly a second sun.
The article referred to Betelgeuse as the second biggest star in the universe. Later, they corrected this to the second biggest star in the constellation of Orion. Wrong again. Betelgeuse is far and away the biggest star in Orion. It is the second brightest.
If you can’t get it on time, at least get it right. — David F. Godwin