Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Mar 24th - Mar 30th, 2006

The Moons of Mars

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  Some would tell us that we now stand at the pinnacle of all history and civilization; that life has never been better.
The Moons of Mars

The Moons of Mars

Generally, we hear this sentiment issuing from the pulpit of the presidency. 'Truth' has now been measured by the instruments which extend the powers of our senses. We can see and hear farther into space, the oceans and even the Earth itself. While it is true that our achievements in many of these areas are indeed notable, we also can fall into the habit of thinking that this is the sole road to the summit; that we have found the exclusive answer, and there is no other way to get there. But whether we have the biggest telescope, the strongest microscope, or the world's best stethoscope, it does not mean this is the only means by which we can achieve our ends, nor that all history has simply been waiting for this mode to come along so that we can reach the 'enlightenment' of scientific discovery.

  Since the Sun has now crossed the threshold of the vernal equinox, we now bask in the light of Spring, its warming rays smiling down on us from above. The Sun is now in Aries, the sign of initiative and new beginnings, impulse and eagerness, courage and daring, ruled by the red planet Mars, our mythological God of War. When a planet rules a sign, there is a similarity of vibration between the two, but with the more concentrated power of the planet 'ruling' over the more receptive 'territory' of the sign.

Deimos

Deimos

  Telescopic investigation long ago revealed that Mars had two Moons; but prior to this discovery, there were a few who had arrived at this same conclusion, but did not do it through observational means. The following is from the astronomical college text, Exploration of the Universe, by George O. Abell, pp. 315-316 are recreates some interesting insights.

Phobos

Phobos

  "Centuries ago, Kepler, hearing of Galileo’s discovery of four satellites of Jupiter, speculated that Mars should have two moons. The speculation was based on numerological, not scientific considerations. Again, in 1726, Jonathan Swift in his satire Gulliver’s Travels described Gulliver's fictional visit to the land of Laputa, where he found scientists engaged in many interesting investigations. In one of them, Gulliver reported, Laputian astronomers had discovered..."

  "...[two] satellites, which revolve about Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the centre of the primary planet exactly three of the diameters, and the outermost five; the former revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty one and a half; so that the squares of their periodical times are very near in the same proportion with the cubes of their distance from the centre of Mars, which evidently shows them to be governed by the same law of gravitation, that influences the other heavenly bodies."

  "The moons are named Phobos and Deimos, meaning 'fear' and 'panic'- appropriate companions of the god of war, Mars. Phobos is 9380 km from the center of Mars, and revolves about it in 7h 39m; Deimos has a distance of 23,500 km and a period of 30h 18m. The 'month' of Phobos is less than the rotation period of Mars; consequently, Phobos would appear to an observer on Mars to rise in the west... The greatest diameters of Phobos and Deimos are about 25 and 13 km, respectively."

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