of Astronomy

Its Most Shall-We-Say Unusual Discoveries

the “Premier” Astronomy-History Journal:

of

The following Catalog is the natural issue of a journal which actually
boasts that its putative referee reports are
** quite commonly turned out between breakfast & lunch**:

1981: ** JHA** review
(by N.Swerdlow) misunderstands purpose —
even the unambiguous TITLE — of the book being reviewed.

Consistency.

1981: Swerdlow misunderstands significance of
statistical results achieved when data do not permit desired precision
but do establish a lack of demonstrated inconsistency with theory.

** DIO 1.1** [1991]
‡5 §D5 [p.33].

1981: Debut of
MacArthur-genius-to-be N.Swerdlow's
ineducability
(** DIO 20** [2012]
‡2 §B [pp.7-9])
regarding the potential accuracy of ancient solstices,
as he supposes equinoxes to be more accurate.
(A misunderstanding persisting
in the

S.Solstice accuracy within ordmag 1 hour was achieved by Kallippos & Hipparchos:

[Though his yearlength was solstice-based, Hipparchos' calendar alone was perhaps equinox-anchored (though see

1982: Erroneous
underlying math in analysis
of real lunar motion vs ** Almajest** motion.
DR's correction agreed to by author who on that basis fundamentally recomputed
original article at

But Hoskin has never forgiven DR for the Longstreetian crime of being right. (

1984: Toppe
academic-pol David Hughes
— sometime Royal Astronomical Society Vice-Prez — shortly before
(in his own journal) mangling a study of Halley-Comet apparitions
by confusedly-mixing epoch-1950.0 and epoch-of-date orbits
(** DIO 1.1** [1991]
‡8 §§B-E [pp.78-84]), graced the

1987: James Evans
climb-assisted his way to
his current Editorship of the ** JHA** by publishing
a massive two-part 64pp alibi-fest (both sections run as Pb papers)
attempting to obscure the success of Ptolemy skeptics R.Newton & DR.
Among other contributions, the paper showed
how to acquire admiration for one's writing style, by publishing
without quotation-marks a couple of passages from J.Dreyer's 1890 book.

1987: Putative referees for the paper let pass the ** JHA**'s
pioneering abbreviation “Sag” for the constellation Sagittarius,
which actual astronomers abbreviate “Sgr”.

1987: The Evans paper tries
to alibi Ptolemy's lack of low stars
by pointing to Tycho missing some dim low summer stars,
unaware of
the fact that in summer it doesn't get completely dark in Denmark.

** DIO 2.1** [1992]
‡4 §F2 [pp.43-44].

1987: An even more imaginative alibi
suggests that there might have been
a 6°-high pile of rocks south of the alleged *observatory*
of Ptolemy (who astronomers have known for centuries wasn't an observer).
The Magnitude-Split test shows
that the rocks were entirely in the ** JHA**'s head.

1987: Same Evans paper tries showing how dumb
Ptolemy-skeptics are, since they allegedly over-estimate
ancient observational accuracy. To make his point, Evans adduces his own
1981 observations of the eclipsed Moon vs the star λSgr
and Hipparchos' two discordant 2nd-century-BC
observations of Spica, all of which displayed errors of ordmag 1°.
But DR showed that the Hipparchan incompatibility was not from
errors of observation but of wrong-signed parallax-correction: when this muff
is corrected, both Spica cases' errors drop from ordmag 1° to ordmag 1',
and same for Hipparchos' −140/1/27 Regulus observation,
likewise that of Evans' own 1981 bungled math,
when his identically wrong-signed parallax-correction is set straight.

** DIO 1.3** [1991]
n.288 [p.173];

1987: While trying to evade DR's
unevadable absent-error-waves proof
that Ptolemy stole the Ancient Star Catalog, the ** JHA**
sloughed over a huge 63° phase-difference that gutted its argument,
just saying that the phase is “not exactly right”.

1987: Same paper's unplumbed opacity-formula
turns out to demand that Tycho observed 8th magnitude stars.

This farce occurred because the author neglected to compute
post-extinction magnitudes by his own formula.

** DIO 2.1** [1992]
‡4 §H7 [pp.47-49].

1987: Weirder yet, the paper claims that star ζCMa
would be visible from Bergen, though at 10th magnitude by the paper's
own formula.

** DIO 2.1** [1992]
‡4 n.65 [p.48];

1987: The same paper's preferred atm opacity
produces 11 magnitudes of brightness-loss at the horizon.
Ptolemy says he observed 1st magnitude stars there.

[*Planetary Hypotheses* 1.2.6. See sardonic discussion at
** DIO 3** [1993]
§L8 and n.93.]

Thus, the

1989: Fabricated positions of Venus are
called (by Noel Swerdlow) “required” positions.
No one is *required* to fake data.

** DIO 11.3** [2002]
‡6 n.20 [p.74].

1989: Eyepopping
allegation in Swerdlow's Ptolemy-alibifest MacArthur-Award paper
that since (near maximum) Venus' elongation changes only
1°/12 in 6d, “in no way could Ptolemy estimate the time” of
greatest elongation, an astoundingly irrelevant (and laughably
misunderstood) point
upon which ** JHA** Board-member Swerdlow persists
in ignorance. Here, his delusion is used to try alibiing
the hilarity that Ptolemy self-contradictorily gives
(at

[How seriously the history-of-astronomy clique should be taken could not possibly be more ironically gauged than by the spectacle that its awe of brain-kissing expertise would lead it to recommend its grandest MacArthur for a completely straight-faced (and incompetent [not a word

Swerdlow's face must still hurt from the strain of not guffawing out loud at Ptolemy, the

1989: The misunderstanding
essential to this ** MacArthur Award**-winning paper's
claim that minuscule motion in 6d proves
Ptolemy couldn't determine the time of Venus' elongation is
depressingly parallel to the author's prior ironically-arrogant ignorance
of the method of equal altitudes:

Consistency.

In both cases, one simply measures two equal values of elongation at sufficient distance from maximum — one before, the other after — for accuracy (but not so great as to cause trouble from non-quadraticity) and take the two times' mean as the time of maximum.

(They teach this stuff in high school.

But not, apparently, at the institutions that voted a MacArthur to this artfully careerist paper.)

1989: The foregoing incomprehensions lead to
Swerdlow's claim (to alibi Ptolemy's fakes):
“the selection of a particular date for true greatest elongation
would be arbitrary in any case.” I.e.,
the ** JHA**, which makes up behind-the-back
fantastic smears at will, naturally
isn't bothered if a scientist just makes up data the same way.

1991: ** JHA** discovers the Winter Equinox.

Paralleling an equally eminent Muffioso's discovery of the Autumnal Solstice.

Both discoveries compared in magnificence to Winnie-the-Pooh's discovery of the East Pole of the Earth:

1991: New-arithmetic 128° − 65° = 65°.

(This is not a mere typo, as contingent math shows.)

** DIO 1.2** [1991]
§§G7&G9 [pp.121-122].

1991: Equating 67d2/3 with 67°2/3
(which is consistent with Velikovsky's 360d year:
** Worlds in Collision** p.330).

1991: ** JHA** declares data
unfittable by orbits, though these data
obviously can be described by the usual elements.

At Curtis Wilson's behest, the

1992: ** JHA** alleged
“further research” by Editor-to-be (since 2013) J.Evans,
into another scholar's curve fitted to the Ptolemy solar theory's errors
—

[a] the correct fit elsewhere in the very DR 1982 paper that was extensively attacked in the same

or

[b] the correct fit in the Wlodarczyk paper immediately following in the same 1987

or

[c] the correct fit in Britton 1992 (Princeton; orig. Yale 1967).

1992: Current ** JHA** board-member Swerdlow
urged that consideration of a famous historical controversy be henceforth
barred from the

1992: Same Swerdlow paper unaware that cosβ
weights are needed for measuring the great-circle size
of celestial longitude differentials.

** DIO 2.3** [1992]
‡8 n.31 [p.106].

1992: Same ** JHA** paper also claims that
0°.2 great-circle waves in the Ancient Star Catalog
would be undetectable.

1992: Same paper eyeballs fit to Peters longitude-error
curve (instead of using least-squares), with seriously false result.

** DIO 2.3** [1992]
‡8 n.31 [p.106].

1992: In so doing, the author forgets to remove
the large 11'-amplitude error-wave due to Ptolemy's known false obliquity,
which muddles the phase and amplitude
of the error-wave that actually needs explaining.

** DIO 2.3** [1992]
‡8 §C14 [p.107-108].

1992: Hoskin's rendition
of Hegel's notorious 1801 planet-distance scheme
fails to translate 4/3 power,
thus omitting the heart of the theory.

** DIO 1.2** [1991]
n.60 [p.110].

1995: Confusion of Hipparchos' 600y span of
eclipse calculations (from his era back to 747BC)
with a non-existent 600y cycle.

** DIO 6** [1996]
‡1 §K [pp.26-27].

2001: In a last-ditch attempt
to salvage Ptolemy's claim of observership of the Ancient Star Catalog,
** JHA** again extensively attacked DR's
1982 paper (published in a refereed science journal)
proving Hipparchos observed the Catalog through a statistical argument
dependent upon assuming a clear atmosphere.
The

[a] R.Newton's fractional-endings argument (

[b] DR's 1976 absent-error-waves analysis in the 1st part of the same 1982 paper whose 2nd part was under

[c] G.Graßhoff's devastating 1986&1990 statistical study.

Highly expert analyses by K.Pickering and D.Duke ended this chauvinist nonsense quickly.

2001: The same ** JHA** paper had applied
modern skies' daylight-sky opacity to ancient night-time best-clarity skies.
The

(In 2005, the 2001 author rather switched over to Hipparchos' side. In 2013, he sorta switched to the middle, still unable to admit having prominently and slanderously taken the wrong side in this ex-debate.)

2001: The most obvious factor overlooked by
the ** JHA** attack (and everyone else) was that
if ancient sky-opacity (not long-suspected plagiarism) had accounted for
the unique 6° gap between Ptolemy's horizon and his lowest stars,
then we would find a similar gap in Hipparchos'

2001: As part of his argument for dense sky-opacity,
the paper's author argued
(along with the whole history-of-astronomy establishment)
that Ptolemy's *arcus visionis* data were not on the horizon,
despite Ptolemy's statement and diagram claiming they were.
** DIO** challenged this in correspondence, pointing out
that Ptolemy's opposite data, acronychal risings,
cannot even be defined other than on the horizon. These unambiguous data
proved the existence of a clear ancient atmosphere
(which thereby requires [from atm-opacity consistency]
that Ptolemy's

2002: ** Journal for the History of Astronomy 33.1**:15-19
purports to correct and provide a superior solution
to the precious 13 Hipparchan klimata preserved by Strabo,
though Aubrey Diller had already in 1934 effectively solved the problem
at

For the 2002 paper, the usual zombie

2002: Nonrealization
(echoing Swerdlow)
that an ancient astronomer found his observatory's geographical latitude
(** Almajest** Book 1) from solstices, not equinoxes.

2002: Consistent
mis-computing
of Syracuse latitude by 200 stades.

** DIO 16** [2009]
‡3 n.3 [p.18].

2002: Mistaking
outdoor observations for indoor calculations.
** DIO 16** [2009]
‡3 §F2&G [pp.27&30-31].

2002: And vice-versa.
** DIO 16** [2009]
‡3 §§F3-F4 [pp.28-29].

2002: Indiscriminately&simultaneously proposing
2 contradictory obliquities for klima-calculation.

** DIO 16** [2009]
‡3 §E7 [p.27].

2005: *JHA 36.2*:167-196 (2005 May) mis-spells
the constellation “Ophiuchus” 5 times out of 5.

2005: In drawing data from Hipparchos'
** Commentary**, same article confuses
his Athens and Rhodos latitudes.

2005: Further: placing of stars leads to amusing
explosive failure.

2005: Sign-error
for star αAri corrupts date arrived at,
and contradicts article's own photo.
(Since this is the 1st star of a list, it shows that ** none** of
the list's stars were checked by any of the paper's
six referees.)

2005: Confusion of atmospheric extinction's effect on size of arctic and antarctic circles.

2005: North confused with south.

2005: Obs-Calc confused with reverse.

2005: Left confused with right.

2005: Improper merging of two statistically incompatible samples.

2007: Proposed explanation of
Khufu pyramid-shaft grades, without realizing
its lack of statistical significance,
or even that the claim was statistical at all.

** DIO 16** [2009]
‡3 n.24 [p.26].

2007: And it turns out that this paper's scheme fits its data better if its trig-argument is inverted.

2008: At
** Journal for the History of Astronomy** 39:290,
Greek stellar declinations are held to have mean error about 10'. (Cited to

[The shockingly unexpected empirical consistency of the several parallax-sign-error arguments of

2008: At
** Journal for the History of Astronomy** 39:287-290,
Greek solstice-measurement is said to be based upon
solar declination-observations of slackness 15'!! —
a figure defended by comparison to stellar errors. Comments:

[1] Solar & stellar observations' accuracies oughtn't to be confused, given the enormous brightness differential.

[2] There is plenty of indication that the best Greek observers' raw solar data had random-error σ = c.1'. — an order of magnitude better than 15'. See, e.g.:

[3] One arcmin is, after all, ordinarily considered the approximate accuracy of the human eye.

2008: ** JHA 39**:289 proposes that
ancient solstice-determiners could have
gotten around the foregoing (imaginary)
15' σ difficulty by melding
a long series of mixed-quality equal-altitudes pairs.
(Each pair required finding t1&t2 when the Sun's altitude
was the same,

Well, if the mean error were really 15':

[a] For the solar perigee & eccentricity of classical antiquity, using

[b] a solstice based on

Conclusion: The proposed series does not seem to be exactly the ideal way to find the hour of a solstice. Hitherto-unnoted surprise-refutation of

2008: The header to the author's Table 1 (p.286)
claims its solar data's hours are given at ** Almajest** 3.1;
i.e., the hour of the −134 solstice is listed by Ptolemy. False.
It has long been pointed out (e.g., by W.Hartner: 1980/8/15 letter to DR;

Thus, in approving an obviously indefensible attempt to deny credit to DR for his totally novel and important discovery (

[1] H.Thurston (History of Science Society's

[2] The

[3] B.van der Waerden (author of

[4] The British Museum, Room 52.

2008: The ** JHA**'s
understandably-unrefereed author is
a last-ditch-holdout rejector (

2008: But even the ** JHA** author's
solar-declination 1/4-degree-σ fantasy is insufficient
to explain

2008: At ** JHA 39**:293-4)
D.Duke earns his place on the ever-so-elite

2008: In the Duke article cited, it is realized that *P.Fouad 267A*'s
solstice is correct to ordmag 1 hour, but no notice is given that this
contradicts the same article's contention that Greek solstices were awful.

2009: The University of Chicago published an addition to our historical
knowledge, by Maria Portuondo
(current chief of Johns Hopkins University's History-of-science Dep't),
ably chronicling the Spanish Empire's long-private (e.g., p.240)
use of lunar eclipses in the late 16th century
to measure longitudes of sites throughout its newly discovered territories.
And the ** Journal for the History of Astronomy 40**:249-276,
published a lengthy, well-illustrated
article [2008] by the same author, the same year.
For a classic inaction-example of the inevitable produce
of

[This accomplishment is bolstered by an actual
** Journal for the History of Astronomy**-Certified AZIMUTH.
(And it mustabeen shonuf-Refereed! After all, Wikipedia explicitly swears
that the

OK, OK, now: when we see that the same ridiculous western azimuth 257°.58 is correctly rendered as eastern azimuth 77°.58 in Table 1 (p.256), we realize that the article's miscue is just from taking an arctan (

But this is where real refereeing is supposed to help by — of all things — actually

[For even more flagrant and just downright funny fake-refereeing at another History-of-science journal, see:

2009:
The documents meticulously mined due to Portuondo's verve and dedication are
a welcome new trove and importantly back up
(even better than she thought, as we'll see below)
her revelation that previous orthodoxy wrongly
assumed Spanish explorers' observations were not worth much.

But it is unfortunate that throughout she takes observers' timekeeping
to be by local Mean Time, which is Universal Time
minus hours of longitude west of Greenwich.
This ignores well-known elementary ** history-of-science** knowledge:
before the invention of reliable pendulum clocks in the 17th century,
standard rendering of raw observational records was not in Mean Time
(local or Greenwich), since Apparent Time was more conveniently &
directly measurable (via sundial, astrolabe, or her Spanish astronomers'
“Instrument of the Indies”), which equals
(quite near enough for our analysis) the Hour Angle of the real not mean Sun.
(And virtually equals that of the mid-eclipse Moon, ±180°.)

[Ere 1925, astronomers' day-epoch was Noon; after, Midnight.

Nowadays, Julian Day uses the former; Universal Time, the latter.]

Mean Time was used mathematically at least since the era of Claudius Ptolemy, who (unlike Hipparchos, as

The irony here: Portuondo was told by her cult-colleagues, such as JHU's slander-font Rob't Kargon (and later by

(We say “potential” since honest academe can be 100%-reliably counted upon to smother all you're reading.)

[The irony reminds DR of his 2007 trip 4000 miles to Vienna seeking advice on ancient Egypt, where he was told that the best source was Austrian Hans Goedicke — who'd lived for a half-century in Baltimore just a few blocks from DR.]

Indeed, when first meeting DR near that very office 2018/10/4, Portuondo's amiable parting salutation was bellowing:

2009:
The Portuondo paper's Table 5 (p.266) lists 20 “errors” of
eclipse-times recorded by the astronomers whose work her paper
and her U.Chi book is about.
But these errors are largely from the astronomical innocence of the author
and mythical ** JHA** referees, who ignored
the Equation of Time — which, once accounted-for,
reduces the average error to virtual nullity.
If we figure with her Table 5's Mean Time,
the mean error is (in time-minutes) about 11m±2m,
thus 11m systematic error — about 5 times its indicated
2m standard-deviation σ.
But after adjusting for E-of-T, mean error is about 2m±1m:
no significant systematic effect indicated.

Had the

[An oddity: Portuondo's eclipse analyses (virtually all of total eclipses) are entirely about observed times of partiality's start&end — though, by contrast, measuring such times for totality is much more precise, and further requires much less good luck for events' mutual above-horizon visibility, enabling measure of the longitude-gap between 2 sites. The restriction was caused by Spanish adoption of shadow-casting instruments, instead of the superior armillary astrolabe (

Similarly, in her UnivChicago book,

Once corrected for E-of-T, the data's misbegotten mean errors convert to about 1m±4m (1577) and 5m±5m (1578), both null well within the standard 2σ envelope of significance.

Indicated accuracy is in rough accord with Greek also-naked-eye eclipse-based longitudes (

It should be added that only the scrupulous accuracy of Portuondo's calculations made possible the foregoing elimination of systematic errors. Had her work been sloppy, the effects just elicied would've been buried in noise.

For competent astronomy's like elimination of far wackier —

For the author's comfort, we add: a Spanish Empire longitude-difference determination would be unaffected by her mistake, because the same error would presumably be made at both locations — and therefore would cancel-out when the longitude gap was computed. (See her similar perception at

2009: Any knowledgeable referee for Portuondo's works
would swiftly realize just how *much* of a learning experience astronomy
(and, to a lesser degree, geography) was for her.
(Which is a credit to her work-ethic and willingness to take on challenges.)
Her shaky grasp of declination (e.g., book at p.235, &
confusion with complement NPD at ** JHA** n.39) hints that
her understanding the essential coordinates of astronomy is fresh.

And DR largely concurs with the criticism (among others) by reviewer Adam Mosley (

She of course cult-typically catnips the

[His clumsiest, funnybone-strainingest shams are on serial-display at

An alternate hypothesis: it seems quite possible that Ptolemy so flagrantly and

Portuondo's 2009 works showed zero awareness that Ptolemy linguistically bungled his fabrication of the

[Also unaccepted: accurate longitudes existed in antiquity before Ptolemy's

2009: It took DR only minutes upon encountering Portuondo's work
to discern problems. Surely a hypothetical able
** Journal for the History of Astronomy** referee could have
done so even before lunch
(

Why are clean-ups of such cases being left instead to

E.g.,

2013: ** JHA 44**:50
claims that reducing stellar brightness by 1/3 adds 1/3 of a magnitude.
Actually it's about 1/4 of a magnitude — an error of 10%.

2013: The same article provides (p.73) a formula for atmospheric refraction as a function of true zenith distance which is actually a function of apparent zenith distance. At the horizon this formula (and the author's odd atmospheric opacity) will predict a star to be 40 times too dim. Error = 4000%.

2015: The ** JHA** having become shy of
publishing ancient astronomy papers,

2015: This paper's astonishing overprecision for
Eratosthenes' hypothetical solar distance (102 Earth-radii)
shows innocence of *science*, being two ordmags more precise
than Evans' and Gingerich's estimate of ancient accuracy.
See ** DIO 22** [2018]
‡1 n.42 [pp.18-19].

2015: The paper also shows unawareness of
*history*: ancient Greek proclivity for expressing solar distance in
Earth-radii by powers of ten (origin of the very idea of order-of-magnitude):
Aristarchos, Archimedes, Eratosthenes, Hipparchos, Poseidonios.
See ** DIO 22** [2018]
‡1 n.10 [pp.10-11].

2016: The History of Science Society's next adventure
in ancient science was at ** Isis 107.4**:687-706, a
twenty-page lead-paper attack on DR,
using good-old-reliable