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Astropro's Website Of the Week Award
©2006 by Richard Nolle

WOW!JAN 30, 2006 - The Great Conjunction is a fascinating online puzzle. Is it for real, or a spoof? I'm inclined toward the latter, but you be the judge. In brief, the unknown authors use a conjunction of the Moon with Venus, Uranus and Neptune as their point of departure for an historical odyssey. (The Great Conjunction website is an online presentation of a pamphlet of the same name published in 1992, the last time this conjunction took place.) As the slower moving pair in this combination, the alignment of Uranus and Neptune in conjunction (only once every 171 years, more or less) dictates the maximum frequency of the larger combination. I'll leave you to the delights of following the threads of the historical tapestry the authors weave around these conjunctions, with a caution drawn from their own words, in tying the historic English mathematician John Greaves to their tale. "Greaves published his tract dealing with the Solar Year in 1648," the authors tell us; adding, "We find it hard to conclude that such a noted astronomer could have failed to have been aware of the current Great Conjunction." Given that Uranus wasn't disovered until 1781 (the earliest recorded sighting was in 1690, when John Flamsteed mistook it for a star and cataloged it as 34 Tauri), and Neptune not until 1846, how could Greaves have been aware of them?

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