Dina Malar doomed

Tamil dailies rarely get it right when it comes to scientific news, but for the the newspaper Dinamalar, well… it seemed to have scaled new heights in its stupidity.

Here’s a summarized translation…

Sky watchers in Coimbatore were able to see Saturn during midnight, quite close to the moon. I was visible around 12.33, and disappeared at 1 o clock. The Geography teacher at Government Arts College explains that planets move around th sun in orbits and sometimes they approach quite close to the earth. There are 9 planets and many more have been discovered. Yesterday, Saturn which is greenish in colour , came close to the earth. Using a powerful lens camera he photographed the incident.

Umm, what?

Oh come on people….it seems completely obvious that the ‘green orb’ in the picture is a lens flare…something that happens in your camera when you take a photo of bright objects such as the sun, or in this case the moon. (It is strange how in in this and in UFO sightings you tend to ignore explanations that are inches in front of your face and jump to the supernatural and paranormal). And thats nothing to say of the fact that Saturn is much much farther than the moon is from the earth, so far that you wouldn’t notice it at all – you would just think that it was a star. Besides, Saturn is a yellowish in colour…I can imagine the students at Government Arts College laughing their heads off.

There is really a widespread interest in all astronomical and meteorological phenomena, and it saddening to see that it is being mixed with misinformation. I mean – all the interesting stuff about astronomy goes completely unreported and it is replaced by the ramblings of crackpots. When the Eta Aquarid meteor shower started two weeks ago, the event went largely unreported in the media (The Hindu reported it after the event was over). But I saw it, I saw more than five meteors within the same day – and I would have seen more if I paid proper attention. People need to know about science, about what is real and what is not.

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