NASA, it seems, likes to do big things on July 4. Several important unmanned space probes have either been launched or have gotten to their destination on that date, including the first Mars space rover.
This year on July 4, NASA sent a washing-machine-sized probe crashing into a comet, Tempel 1. It was the first time a man-made object has ever touched a comet.
The probe punched a crater in the comet’s surface, produced a huge explosion and fireball, caused outgassing of primordial comet debris, caused the comet to brighten by a factor of five, and ruined the natural balance of forces in the universe, deforming a Russian woman’s horoscope.
Well, those last things are contentions made by Marina Bai, a Russian astrologer who apparently makes a living at telling people’s horoscopes. She claims the probe's impact on the comet upset the balance of nature in the universe and, thus, has thwarted her own horoscope as well as her ability to chart the stars for others.
She, therefore, is suing NASA for $300 million. That happens to be the approximate total cost of the suicide mission to the comet. So, if she wins, it would end up costing U.S. taxpayers twice as much to crash an object on a comet.
A Russian court judge has scheduled hearings on the suit for later this month. NASA refused comment.
However, scientists in charge of studying the collision say that the collision did not significantly alter the comet’s course and that it did not result in any increased threat to Earth.
The story of the Russian woman’s lawsuit appeared on a CBS News Web site. But it belonged in the strange news department. In fact, it might fit well on the comic page of most newspapers.
But it really did happen. A woman has sued NASA for sending a probe to collide with a comet because she claims it messed up her horoscope. Late night comedy hosts are bound to have a field day with this one.
First of all, the woman is an astrologer, not an astronomer. There is a big difference. Astrology is an age-old superstition. It might be fun to read one’s horoscope in the newspaper, but nobody should take them seriously.
As far as creating horoscopes for other people, well what difference does it make if a comet is nudged off path slightly? Comets, unless they strike the earth, have absolutely no effect on anyone’s destiny. Neither do the position of the planets.
At one time, ancients believed that the position of the planets at the time of one’s birth could determine that person’s personality and even predict future events in the person’s life. This was also during the time when ancient astrologers were learning how to predict things like the rising and setting times of the sun, moon, stars, and known planets.
Before astronomy, the true science of the stars and planets, astrology was all we had.
We know now that there is absolutely no connection between a person’s destiny and the position of the planets, let alone a comet. And even if there were such a connection, modern astrologers continue to use ancient star charts. Because of the wobble of the earth’s axis, those star charts are about two months out of synch with the true position of celestial bodies.
NASA probably doesn’t have much to worry about from the misguided Russian astrologer. But it did give me a good chuckle when I read it. I can thank her for that.