Letter to the Editor About Inaccurate Reporting

In August of 1997 our local newspaper, the Traverse City Record Eagle published an article about sky observing opportunities in our area. I was contacted by the freelance writer of the article, and nowhere did I mention astrology. However the writer confused the two, and I got one call from someone who thought I was a true believer. The call angered me enough to write this letter to the editor. Someone from the paper called me asking me to shorten the letter a bit, it went 24 words over the 300 word limit. I cut it down and resubmitted it. They never ran it. One day after first posting the letter here I got a letter from the Record Eagle saying they never got the resubmitted letter. I did mail it.

In my conversation with the newspaper representative, I was told the letter was very technical. You be the judge.

Since then I have also been misquoted by another reporter from the paper about daylight savings time. I'm not sure why the reporter wrote on the subject, she had little knowledge of time zones and no knowledge of what longitude had to do with time zones.

Robert C. Moler
6003 Secor Road
Traverse City, MI 49684-9016
Home Phone: 616.946.8649
E-mail: bob@bjmoler.org
WWW: http://ephemeris.bjmoler.org

September 4, 1997

Editor of the Record Eagle:

The article in the August 21st edition of Summer Magazine titled "Gazing at the Stars" contained much useful information on when and where to view the wonders of the heavens, for that we are grateful. However the author Mike Terrell did a grave disservice to the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society by first calling it the astrological society.

Unfortunately, many members of the public do confuse astronomy and astrology. However, a professional journalist, especially one writing about astronomy, should know the difference, and not use the words interchangeably.

It is true that astrology is astronomy's illegitimate parent. Astrology is the belief that the motions of the planets with respect to the earth and the instant of one's birth somehow influence his or her actions and actions of others toward them. Ancient kings, influenced by their astrologers thought the gods were pushing the planets around in a ouiga board sky spelling out the future. Astrologers invented the science of astronomy to discover how to predict the movements of the planets so as to get a jump on the gods. The Record Eagle to this day perpetuates this superstition by running a horoscope column. At least it's run on the funny page.

Astronomy is the science of celestial bodies, their composition and their motions. It gave us the law of gravity, and our ability to locate our position on the earth. Astronomical observations also regulate our clocks. At every advance in astronomy starting with Copernicus, when the earth was moved from its central privileged position in the universe, astrology has made less and less sense.

Contrary to what the article said one will not get the latest astrological news in the newsletter of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. What one will find is how and where to spot the wonders of the heavens.


Robert C. Moler

Questions? Send Email to me at bob@bjmoler.org

Updated: 10/31/97