TRANSIT

The Astrologer's Newsletter - September/October 2005

KEPLER DAY - IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

The AA wishes to announce that Kepler Day (our research conference) is now postponed until Spring 2006. We apologise for any inconvenience to those who have already booked. Please read the November and January issue of council news (in Transit) for dates and venue information.

On 25th August, our own Nick Campion featured in the BBC Radio4 series Devout Sceptics. In this series, people who, whilst not overtly 'religious' but nevertheless possessing some spiritual faith, talk about their beliefs and why it matters to them. If, like me, you missed the show when it was broadcast, you can listen to it via the link above (it's a RAM file, so you need to have RealPlayer installed on your computer).

This broadcast was met with utterly predictable scorn by Nicholas Lezard, the radio reviewer for the Independent on Sunday. In his IOS review for 28th August, Mr. Lezard, who is notoriously anti-astrology, started off with the perceptive observation that the series "allows (people) to bang on and on to Bel Mooney about their wishy-washy belief systems for half an hour." It seems he would prefer that Ms Mooney interviews someone with non-wishy-washy beliefs - a US tele-evangelist or a member of the Taliban, perhaps? He then launched into an attack on Nick Campion, describing him as "the late Princess of Wales's astrologer". Great gods, what a heinious crime - lock up that Campion man immediately! Having bought up Princess Diana, he then laid into the "frauds, loonies and blackguards" (i.e. the clairvoyants and astrologers she consulted) who failed to warn her to put on her seatbelt on that fatal night. Does he also include the Princess' bodyguard, driver and companion amongst those "frauds, loonies and blackguards", I wonder? He carries on for another 100 words or so in this vein, inveighing against some of his favourite bugbears. Nowhere does he actually review the programme itself, which is what the newspaper presumably pays him for.

No doubt Nick will have something to say about it in his next Media Watch column; You can find this issue's Media Watch here.

 

The recent discovery of the "10th planet", officially known as 2003 UB313, but unofficially named Xena until the IAU decides on a 'proper' name, produced more ire from the anti-astrology brigade. Surprisingly, some of it was directed at the astronomer who discovered it (and called it Xena). A New York Times article about the discovery (28th August), wrote about him: "...he has been peppered with inquiries from astrologers seeking to know the exact moment he made his observation. Dr. Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, subsequently posted the time of discovery on his Web page for their benefit, he said, because he has always appreciated astrologers' enthusiasm for the heavens. 'The astronomical world frequently sits around and bickers,' he said. 'It's nice to see a group sit around and take pleasure in new discoveries.' (And)...he has always appreciated astrologers' enthusiasm for the heavens." Brown was also part of the team that discovered Sedna and Quaoar; he is evidently a decent, tolerant fellow who has discovered that astrologers are often intelligent, well-educated people with an interest in astronomy. But, judging from the reaction in some anti-astrology quarters (and I quote: "Tenth Planet Discoverer Is Cheerleader for Astrologers" - shock horror!), you would think that he had announced his conversion to Satanism.

Xena, incidentally was discovered on January 5th this year, at 11:20AM PST at Palomar Observatory (34N40 116W55), according to Michael Brown's web page about it

 

In the rest of this issue, David Fisher's Data Corner highlights a train-spotting bishop; Pete Watson writes about Ricky Gervaise's new TV sitcom: Jennie Harte returns with more World news; Chris Olgivie tries to fathom the motives of a suicide bomber. For some light relief, turn to the humour page.

And there are also the usual items - Council News (with news of job vacancies) and James Brockbank and Alice Ekrek are featured on the Council Profiles page.

 

Val Dobson, Editor