Now that 2012 is behind us and all of the doomsday predictions of December 21st failed, Bill Hudson (a.k.a. ‘Astrogeek’) founder of the 2012hoax.org website has created a new site for 2013 and beyond. Dealing with yet more doomsday predictions that are already in full swing on numerous conspiracy websites, fears from comet impacts to rogue planets, this is Cosmophobia.What the heck is “Cosmophobia”? You may be wondering:
Astronomer David Morrison, Senior scientist with the NASA Lunar Science Institute, coined the term ‘cosmophobia’ after answering questions at the NASA “Ask an Astrobiologist” page. He defined it as “An unreasoning fear of the cosmos”, and created a short list of items that people are worried about.
A presentation at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s annual meeting in Tuscon in August 2012 was titled “Doomsday 2012 and Cosmophobia: Challenges and Opportunities for Science Communication” and is available for viewing via NASA’s website.
This site grew out of the 2012hoax website, at the end of 2012. It was felt that despite the fact that 2012 had ended without the various predictions of doom and destruction the resources gathered under the 2012hoax website would still be necessary in the future. Many of the predictions made about 2012 originated well before 2012, and would continue to be claimed well after 2012.
This site will deal with various claims that invoke ‘cosmophobia’, where the fear factor is pumped up in claims in order to make something fairly mundane sound sinister and threatening. In addition to claims made about astronomy, we will also look into claims touching on other fields of science such as geology and vulcanology. We will approach all claims from a perspective of skeptical inquiry. The claimant must provide evidence that supports their claims, and extraordinary claims will require extraordinary evidence.
So the date of December 21st, 2012 is finally here.
The winter solstice has happened, the calendar has ended, we’re still here! No Nibiru, no asteroid or comet, no massive solar flare, no giant earthquakes and no alien invasion.
It’s safe to say, not that it wasn’t ever safe to say, that the doomtards have failed yet again. So, will this finally be the end of doomsday theories and fearmongering? I doubt it.
I think it’s a pretty sure thing that doomtards such as Marshall Masters, Nancy Lieder, Jaysen Rand, Patrick Geryl etc, and the countless armchair genius’ on YouTube will dream up more crackpot theories with no science or evidence to back them, or just push the date back for Planet X and Nibiru. I mean, why break the habbit of a lifetime?
As we’ve said before, fear sells, and people like this make a living off of it. We can only hope now that the people who were sucked in to this hoax and believed it will think a little harder next time. This may very well be our last post on the whole 2012 hoax, but you can rest assured that so long as there are idiots like this spreading their BS and fear over the internet, we won’t be far behind to debunk them. So there you have it folks, probably the biggest doomsday theory hopefully laid to rest. We’d like to take this oppertunity to thank everyone involved in this blog and thanks to everyone for all your kind messages of support over the years. Have a great Christmas and new year.
To the doomtards, Marshall Masters in particular, YOU FAILED!
Telescope images captured of the sun on March 11, 2012 show what appears to be a planet-size shadowy object tethered to the sun by a dark filament. In the image sequence, a burst of brightly lit material can be seen erupting from the sun’s surface surrounding the dark object, after which the orb detaches from the sun and shoots out into space.
The footage, a composite of images captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory and processed by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has quickly garnered attention on YouTube, where viewers are suggesting it shows a UFO spacecraft refueling by sucking up solar plasma, or at the very least, the birth of a new planet.
However, according to NASA scientists, the feature is actually a little-understood, but frequently observed, type of solar activity called a “prominence,” and the way it is situated beneath another solar feature gives it its otherworldly appearance.
The thread extending from the lower left edge of the sun in the video is known as a “prominence,” a feature containing cooler, denser plasma than the surrounding 3.5 million-degree Fahrenheit corona, said Joseph Gurman, project scientist in the Solar Physics Laboratory at NASA Goddard. It isn’t yet known exactly how prominences develop, but these dense plasma loops can extend from the sun’s surface thousands of miles into space.
“When prominences are that extended in height above the limb (edge of the sun), it’s usually a sign that they’re about to erupt, as this one did,” Gurman told Life’s Little Mysteries.
C. Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who runs a website called The Sun Today, explained that the prominence is situated below a tunnel-shape feature called a filament channel, (coronal prominence cavity, or polar crown cavity). “When you look at it from the edge of the sun, what you actually see is a spherical object. You’re actually looking down the tunnel. And this tunnel sits up top of the filament,” Young explained at The Sun Today. He added that the development of these structures is quite common. Alex Young’s video can be seen below.
But why is the prominence dark? Gurman explained that all the light in the SDO images is the same color — a specific wavelength that is emitted by iron atoms that have been ionized 13 times, known as Fe XIV. The dark filament seen in the images (the refueling UFO’s “tether,” according to YouTube users) is a part of the prominence that happens to absorb light of this color, making it appear dark. “The absorption is typically seen in lines such as Fe XIV only in the thinnest, densest parts of the prominence, which is here seen edge-on as it rotates over the solar limb,” he said.
In the image sequence, there is a burst of activity around the prominence, and then it and the filament channel shoot out into space immediately afterward. According to Gurman, the first event was probably an outburst of the sun’s magnetic field called a coronal mass ejection. “It’s generally accepted, though still not conclusively proven, that prominence eruptions occur when the overlying magnetic field that contains the prominence material is disrupted,” he said.
Another image showing the same coronal mass ejection and prominence eruption was captured by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on Monday. In this image, which captured light in the visible wavelength range, a bright swirl of material from the prominence trails the fainter edge of the coronal mass ejection as the two plunge into space.
Less exciting than a refueling UFO or a brand new planet, maybe — but there’s nothing quite like the truth.
You see a lot of these types of “odd-thing-near-sun” things on YouTube, based off video feed from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. That’s basically because the SDO is new (just two years old), and people are not used to the amazing displays the sun puts on. Some of which will be new to science as this the the best view we’ve ever had of the sun.
There are numerous papers describing these cavities, so I’ll just give some links, extracts and images:
We propose to define a polar crown cavity as a density depletion sitting above denser polar crown filament plasma drained down the cavity by gravity. As part of the polar crown filament, plasma at different temperatures (ranging from 50 000 K to 0.6 MK) is observed at the same location on the cavity dips and sustained by a competition between the gravity and the curvature of magnetic field lines.
Cavities are commonly observed as part of a CME, but may also exist before eruption (Sterling and Moore 2004; Gibson et al. 2006). Such quiescent cavities appear as dark, semi-circular or circular regions, often surrounding a central prominence (relatively cool and dense plasma suspended in the solar corona), and embedded in a helmet-shaped white-light streamer (Figure 1, left). They are ubiquitous: several may be visible on a given day; and can be long-lived (on the order of months): either reforming or only partly erupting in CMEs.
At the limb, the geometry of the cavity enclosure becomes
more visible because of projection against the background sky.
One typically then sees a white-light coronal streamer, often
with a hollow cavity underneath. Such cavities sometimes form
long-duration X-ray arcade events and launch coronal mass
ejections (CMEs) of the “streamer blowout” type.
Seen in the accompanying movie, forward modeling was used to predict morphology of a coronal prominence cavity. The animation shows EUV observations of a cavity from NASA’s STEREO spacecraft on the top/left, as well as the forward-modeled predicted EUV for the coronal cavity on the bottom/right. As time goes by in the movie, it’s possible to see the 3-dimensional, tunnel-like cavity rotate past.
An example of this came this week when a correspondent asked me about my observations of comet 2010 X1 Elenin . One of the prominent internet memes going around at the moment is that Elenin is actually the Moon of a Brown Dwarf star or a Brown Dwarf star itself (often claimed to be 4 times Jupiter’s size). I was asked if I could look out for something dim close to Elenin. There is just one problem, a Brown Dwarf close to Elenin would be very bright. Elenin currently is just outside the orbit of Mars (visualised in Celestia, click images to enlarge)
Brown Dwarf stars are stars that have only a few times the mass and radius of Jupiter; they are too small to start hydrogen fusion, although they may run for a short while on deuterium fusion. They are typically quite cool compared to main sequence stars, and emit very little visible light.
From a distance of a few light years or more they are invisible to optical telescopes. To find these dim almost-stars, we need to look with infrared sensitive telescopes. For example the WISE telescope had as one of its missions surveying for Brown Dwarfs. The coolest Brown Dwarf so far discovered by WISE is WISEPC J045853.90+643451.9 which is over 18 light years away. With a temperature of 600 K it is hot enough to melt lead and tin, but is totally invisible to our current optical telescopes.
But while these almost stars produce very little visible light of their own, they reflect light perfectly well. If you go out in the early morning and look to the north-east, you will see a bright object well above the horizon (brighter Venus is well below it). That is Jupiter, a failed Brown-Dwarf, which we can see just fine.
Elenin is currently just outside Mars’s orbit, we can easily calculate how bright an object 4 times Jupiter’s size would be at that distance using the formulas here. I’ve put my calculations up on Google Docs for people to play with (click this link for access to spreadsheet ).
Simulation of what a Brown Dwarf would look like in the sky tonight if it was near comet Elenin’s current position. I’ve used Stellarium’s cometary body codes, using a dark, non-luminous object with 4 times Jupiter’s diameter. It would be kind of obvious. If a Brown Dwarf with a surface much darker than the Moon was at Elenin’s distance (as of June 1), it would have a magnitude of -6.5.
This is much brighter than Venus, bright enough to cast shadows at night and bright enough to be easily seen in daylight. This is an under estimate, as a Brown Dwarf would be more likely to be more reflective, more like Jupiter. An object 4 times Jupiter’s size just outside Mars’s orbit would also be visible as a small disk (you can do the calculations for this one as an exercise for yourselves, see the Stellarium simulation above).
Simulating a non-self luminous Brown Dwarf using fruit. The granny smith apple is the Brown dwarf. Left hand panel, the Brown Dwarf at Pluto’s orbit. Right hand panel, the brown Dwarf at Mars’s orbit. The mandarin is Jupiter, the lillypilli pit is Mars and and the lillypilliy (closest to torch) is Earth. Distances have been scaled at 10 cm= I AU.
Brown Dwarfs are only invisible to us because they lie deep in the vasty dark, away from any light sources that can illuminate them. This is what causes confusion for some folks. Brown Dwarfs themselves produce little or no visible light but they are perfectly capable of reflecting light, as does Jupiter.
Here’s a test you can do yourself with a torch an some pieces of fruit. I’ve scaled the solar system so that 1 AU (the distance from Earth to the Sun) is 10 cm from the torch I’m using as the Sun. Mars’s orbit lies 25 cm away, Jupiter’s orbit is 62 cm away and Pluto’s orbit is 4 meters away. The orbit of the hypothetical planet Tyche would be two blocks away, and the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, lies 2.7 km away on the other side of Taperoo. I’ve used a lillypilli for Earth, a mandarin for Jupiter and an apple for a Brown Dwarf (see diagram above).
Strictly speaking, if I wanted to scale the diameters of the planets to the scale of the solar system, then I would have used 1 meter for 1 AU, them the Brown Dwarf would be 2 mm in diameter (I leave it as an exercise for the reader to test this themselves).
As you can see, when the non-self luminous “Brown Dwarf” is at Pluto’s distance, it is fairly dim, but when we move the “Brown Dwarf” to just outside of Mars’s orbit, it is quite bright. The atmosphere of a real T class is probably as reflective as a Granny Smith (but more a Magenta colour). Such an object would be readily visible in the night sky.
Leonid Elenin himself has done a simulation on his website (SpaceObs.org) of what would happen to solar system orbits if a Brown Dwarf passed through. It would be quite obvious.
What if we replace comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) by brown dwarf with mass about 0.05 of Solar mass? This video demonstrate time interval from 2000 to 2020 years. As you can see, dramatic changes in the orbit of Saturn would have started 3 years ago. But at this time all planets are on it’s nominal orbits. I think myth about “brown dwarf instead comet Elenin” is debunked. You can see that by yourself.
Numerical integration was carried out by ORSA software using RADAU15-th order integrator.
Summary: So, as you can see, it is impossible for Elenin to be a moon of a Brown Dwarf star (also we would have noticed its orbital motion by now) or a Brown Dwarf itself.
 Obligatory Douglas Adams homage, with added AC/DC.
 I haven’t got any yet, either I’ve got the time wrong and the comet has set, or the observatory is closed because of bad weather.
 Note that for the H calculation Do is in Km, but for the magnitude calculation, Do is in AU. The calculated magnitudes of Venus, Jupiter and Neptune agree with their observed magnitudes.
The black boxes in Google Sky, WikiSky, and Microsoft World-Wide Telescope are not ‘censored’ by NASA
Much is made of the fact that there is a blank region in Orion that appears on Google Sky, WikiSky and Microsoft WorldWide Telescope. The region in question can be seen here.
What is it?
The presence of the blank square is undeniable. So, why is it there? Why is approximately the same region being ‘censored’ by three major online planetarium programs? Did the Men In Black come knocking on Google’s door?
The truth of the matter is far more mundane.
The images that make up the visual portion of these online planetarium sites are all from the same source… the DSS (Digitized Sky Survey). The original DSS1 was a high-resolution scan (digitization) of photographic plates. For the northern sky, a 1958 sky survey from the Palomar Observatory2 was the source. For the Southern skies, Southern Sky Atlas and its Equatorial Extension (together known as the SERC-J) and the southern Galactic Plane survey (SERC-V), from the UK Schmidt Telescope at Anglo-Australian Observatory, were used.
The so-called ‘missing’ block comes from the Palomar data.
Wait, when did you say?
1958. The base data that appears in Google Sky, WikiSky and Microsoft World-Wide Telescope is from 1958. These programs are augmented with other data sources, but the block appears in the DSS data.
So, this means that the conspiracy theorists would have you believe that NASA and other branches of the government are trying to hide something in data that is 52 years old3.
Why is there a “blacked out” square?
Ah, but is there a ‘blacked out’ square? As it turns out, no. That one block of data has some apparent issues, since it drops out of the interface of three different online planetarium programs. However, it is possible to directly query the data from the original source, the Space Science Telescope Institute. This is the source used in the video below.
Here is a good video on YouTube debunking the ‘censorship’ claim by EvilSpork29 titled “Debunking: Google SkyView, WikiSky & WorldWide Telescope Cover-up & Conspiracy Theory”. The author takes you through step by step, and shows you exactly where to get the ‘missing’ data.
In addition to all of the other objections, the idea that the DSS data had to be edited fails on another count. The data are not perfect. This is an implied property where people imply that NASA wouldn’t publish these images with errors in them. The fact of the matter is that the DSS imagery have all kinds of image artifacts.
Go back to the link to google sky, and zoom out until you see the stars in Orion and Sirius. Once you have these, look for a round blue object between Sirius and Orion, sitting just above Sirius, and zoom in on it, until you see this.
That is the underside of the telescope at Palomar. It is an image that appears on the original photographic plates, and is a result of a double-exposure or light leak onto the plate. The plate was not discarded because it was felt that the data was not obscured enough, and was too valuable to discard. There are several of these in the DSS data, along with some other interesting imaging artifacts.
The telescope imaging process introduced certain artifacts into the plates such as varying levels of brightness, noise, and color saturation, as well as vignetting: a darkening of the edges and the corners of each plate, which needed correction in order to generate a clear and seamless image. Terapixel programmatically removed these anomalies, stitched and smoothed images, and then created image pyramids for visualization in WorldWide Telescope (WWT). 
Even if we were to believe the conspiracy theorists who claim that planetarium programs have been censored by nefarious powers that be, it remains a very simple matter to stand in your backyard and gaze in the direction of the allegedly hidden coordinates. All the censorship in the world can’t cover up the actual sky, nor can it ensure the silence of millions of professional and amateur astronomers around the world.
The claim of censorship fails because the data are available from the Space Science Telescope Institute as well as sky-map.org. The data is over 50 years old, so whatever a censor was hiding would have had to have been visible at that point. Also, censorship conspiracies are dubious from a practical standpoint, because hiding something in software does nothing toward hiding it in the actual sky, as people (including astronomers) can simply look up at supposedly “censored” regions of the heavens.
Dr. David Morrison is the Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute and Senior Scientist for Astrobiology at the NASA Ames Research Center. He holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard and is internationally known for his research on small bodies in the solar system, including advocacy for developing plans to defend the Earth from impacts by comets and asteroids.
A Fellow of CSI, he has written extensively on such fringe science topics as Velikovsky, cosmic catastrophes, UFOs, the creation science movement, and most recently the climate crisis caused by global warming. For the past two years he has been the primary scientist critic of the widespread fear that the world will end in 2012, and of the doomsday sleaze artists who use the Internet, blogs, and cable TV to frighten people for profit. Dr. Morrison’s discussion largely centers around the hoax of 2012.