Edge

It’s written in the stars

Can the infinite abyss of space and time really tell humans about the world around them? Can a person’s birthday really determine their personality or predict the future? How much power do the stars truly hold? Considering that stars are simply enormous balls of gas burning millions of light-years away, it seems silly that mankind has been fascinated by them since the beginning of civilization. But it’s true. Ancient Egyptians used the stars of Orion’s belt to align the pyramids. Lunar patterns determined when the first farmers would harvest or hunt. And many cops, if questioned, would say that the full moon is their busiest night of the month.

If you’re one of those people who read his/her horoscope religiously, the stars control your love life and financial success, too. But what in the universe is mystic and what is scientific? It seems that may all be a matter of personal belief, and the Weintraub Planetarium, at the Miami Museum of Science, is trying to help answer these questions.

The museum was founded in 1949 with a “strong commitment in inspiring interest and enthusiasm in all areas of science, astronomy, wildlife and technology.” The Planetarium opened in 1966 and still uses a Space Transit Planetarium (STP), one of the last machines of its kind, which has the ability to re-create about 90 percent of what one would see on a clear, dark night. Among other exhibits, the planetarium holds free star shows every Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. in the museum observatory for anyone interested seeing what’s going on in Miami’s sky that particular night.

But the museum teaches about astronomy – not astrology. Astrology’s not an exact science. In fact it’s not actually a science at all. The zodiac, the constellations located along an imaginary line that divides the sky into hemispheres, does not even line up with its original placement from thousands of years ago. And horoscopes, which are based upon the time of the sun’s appearance in a particular constellation, basically all say the same thing despite a person’s “sign.” Whether or not a person applies the information to his or her own life becomes a matter of choice. On average, only mystics (or the highly superstitious) will attest that the predictions hold a greater truth. However, mystics may be smarter than science gives them credit for. Quantum mechanics are now studying what was formerly left to the mystics, and telescopes are able to detect a planet’s aurora – high energy – that mystics have been claiming to see around humans for years. So whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, superstitious or scientific, it couldn’t hurt to wish upon a star tonight and see what you get.

Dani McNally can be contacted at d.mcnally@umiami.edu.

November 2, 2004

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.