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Friday, December 03, 2021

 

Southern Skywatch December 2021 edition is now out!

Western Evening sky on Tuesday, December 7 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:57 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset).  Venus is close to the Crescent Moon and forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter. 

 

 

The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

The December edition of Southern Skywatch is now up. 

This month the planetary action remains mostly in the evening skies, with 3 bright planets visible after the sky is fully dark at the beginning of the month, then Mercury joins the line up later in the month. Venus blazes in the west not far from the pair of Saturn and Jupiter in the north-west. Mercury is low the evening twilight. Mars climbs higher in the morning sky. The Moon does a planet dance with bright Venus, Saturn and Jupiter. The Geminid meteors are good this year. Possible binocular comet C/2021 A1 Leonard. Occultation of Mars on Mew Years day.


December 3; the thin crescent moon near Mars, low in the morning twilight. December 4; New Moon. December 4; perigee Moon. December 6; Crescent moon forms a line with Venus, Saturn and Jupiter. December 7; Venus is close to the crescent Moon. December 8; Moon between Saturn and Jupiter. December 9; waxing Moon close to Jupiter. December 10; waxing Moon forms a line with Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. December 11; First Quarter Moon. Morning December 14; Geminid meteor shower peaks. December 16-25; Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard visible. December 18; apogee Moon. December 19; Full Moon (apogee ”mini” moon). December 27; Last Quarter Moon. January 1 2022; Morning occultation of Mars .

  Mercury  is low in the evening twilight from the middle of this month of this month and encounters Venus. On the 27 Venus and Mercury can been seen low in the twilight half an hour after sunset together, and the pair are at their closest on the 29th (with Venus below).

Venus is easily visible at the beginning of the month in the evening sky from 30 minutes after sunset (I can see it as early as 5 minutes after sunset) until well after the sky is fully dark. Venus, Saturn and Jupiter make a nice line in the evening sky in December. Venus is at its greatest brilliance on the 4th, then rapidly moves to the horizon. Venus is a very obvious crescent in even small telescopes and will get thinner as it heads towards the horizon, by the end of the Month it may be visible as a crescent in binoculars.  

Earth is at solstice on Wednesday the 22nd, when the day is longest.

Mars is low in the twilight until late in the month. On the 3rd the thin crescent moon is close to Mars. On January 1, 2002 Mars is occulted by the thin crescent Moon.

Jupiter is readily visible from astronomical twilight and is now lowering into the western evening sky. Jupiter still bright and an excellent object in even small telescopes, but the window for telescopic observation is closing. At the beginning of this month at astronomical twilight, we can enjoy the sight the sight of bright Venus in the west forming a line with Saturn and bright Jupiter in the north-west. Once Venus has set Jupiter dominates the night sky. by the end of the Month Mercury has replaced Venus.

Saturn can be easily seen from nautical twilight (an hour after sunset) during December. Saturn is telescopically best at astronomical twilight, when the sky is fully dark, but from mid-month it is too close to the horizon for good telescopic observation.

The moon visits the bright planets in Turn, Venus on the 7th, Saturn on the 8th then Jupiter on the 9th. The Moon will be close enough to Jupiter for the pair to fit in the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. The sight of the three bight planets together with the Moon will be particularly beautiful.

Moon: Perigee December 4 and at apogee December 18

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

 

Thursday December 2 to Thursday December 9

The New Moon is Saturday, December 4.  The thin crescent Moon is near Mars low in the morning twilight.  Three bright planets are seen forming a line in the early evening sky. Venus is readily visible in the early evening sky forming a line with Saturn and Jupiter  in the western evening sky with Jupiter dominating once Venus has set.Venus is at its greatest brilliance on the 4th.

The New Moon is Saturday, December 4. The Moon is at perihelion, when it is closest to the earth, at this time.

Morning sky on December 3 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:25 ACDST (30 minutes before sunrise). Mars is close to the thin crescent Moon low in the twilight, you may need binoculars to see Mars clearly.  

 

 

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

Evening sky on December 4 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:53 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset).  Venus is at its greatest brilliance and is forming a line with Saturn and Jupiter.

 

 The insets shows the telescopic views of Venus, Saturn and Jupiter at this time. Venus is a distinct crescent now. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen). 

Whole sky showing Jupiter, Saturn and Venus in a line , November 27, 21:53 ACDST, 90 minutes after sunset (click to embiggen). Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades can be seen above the eastern horizon.

 

 

 

 Elsewhere in Australia will see a similar planetary line up that the equivalent time (90 minutes after sunset).  

Mercury  is lost in the morning twilight.

Venus is visible in the early evening when the sky is fully dark.  I have been able to see Venus from just after sunset and it is easily seen over 3 hours after sunset, longer if you have a clear western horizon.  Venus is at its greatest brilliance, forming a line with Saturn and Jupiter. It is now a distinct crescent in even small telescopes.

Mars is low in the twilight and is close to the thin crescent Moon on the 3rd, you may need binoculars to see Mars clearly.
   
Jupiter is rising before sunset and is readily visible when the sky is fully dark. Venus, Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the sky. Jupiter is still excellent in even small telescopes, but the window of telescopic observation is closing as it sets earlier.
 
Saturn is rising well before sunset. Saturn is still excellent in even small telescopes, but the window of telescopic observation is closing as it sets earlier.  
 
Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


 

Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to the current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Friday, November 26, 2021

 

No, the mRNA vaccines do not increase your risk of Acute Coronary Syndrome

Anti-vaccinationists have been promoting an abstract of a poster to be presented at the forthcoming American Heart Association meeting as A) a peer-reviewed publication (it's not, conference poster abstracts are not peer-reviewed in any meaningful sense, and it is flagged with an expression of concern) and B) demonstrating significant heart inflammation which increases cardiac risk. The abstract states:

We conclude that the mRNA vacs dramatically increase inflammation on the endothelium and T cell infiltration of cardiac muscle and may account for the observations of increased thrombosis, cardiomyopathy, and other vascular events following vaccination.
 

Except well.. it doesn't. (EDIT: I have now seen the poster, it's even worse than I thought, see below)
 
I graphed the data from the abstract, it doesn't support the claims, basically, the inflammatory markers are not elevated. Look at the error bars, they are very wide and overlap substantially between pre- and post- vax measures, which means there is no meaningful difference between the figures, indeed for IL-16 there is a possibility that the real postvax value is actually lower than prevax). 

The PULS test (Protein Unstable Lesion Signature Test, mistyped as PLUS in the abstract, the author couldn't even get the name of the test he used right), measures a panel of 9 proteins associated with atherosclerotic plaques, including proteins related to inflammation, apoptosis, thrombosis and vascular remodeling (IL-16, sFas, Fas ligand, HGF, HDL, Eotaxin, MCP-3, CTACK and HbA1c, don't worry about what all the abbreviations mean) as well as things like blood pressure and cholesterol levels to predict the likelihood of a cardiac event (from rupture of a blood vessel in the heart to clotting, etc.).

I could find no independent validation of this test (one site that sells this test claimed 61% predictive utility for any cardiac event, not that good even for the intended use. A similar test, the CHDRA algorithm, has been tested and is somewhat better than the Framingham risk score in predicting 5 year risk of cardiac events but again incorporates a lot more data than just the panel of 9 proteins (and is still only moderately better than tossing a coin).  

Importantly the CHDRA algorithm is meant to weigh long term risk factors against the risk of cardiac events, not transient changes associated with infection or vaccination. 

However, note that only 3 of the 9 proteins in the CHDRA panel are reported, not enough to calculate a coronary risk score.  Furthermore, there is no actual data shown (eg. IL-16 is normally reported in ng/Litre or pg/mL), just an arbitrary "elevation above the norm". There is no indication of how the "normal" baseline is determined (what is population the "norm was based on? how many subjects, what was their health status? what age and sex distribution?). Are they using an average value or the upper limit of the reference range (however derived)? 
 
There is no indication of inter-test variability (ie how variable is the data from a the same subject taken three months apart, is the variation shown just the normal variability of the populations?). Normal changes over time not controlled for, there is no group of similarly aged people who have not been vaccinated tested over the same time interval. 
 
Detail from Figure 2B of this paper looking at inflammatory markers after injection with the Pfizer vaccine.
 
Then again, it's not like finding inflammatory markers 2-10 days after a vaccination which induces inflammation is a surprise.  We already knew that.  
 
If you look at the panel to the left you can see that IL-16 is elevated on days 2 and 8 after vaccination and returns to baseline by day 22. That the PULS test results in the abstract can't even show this clearly shows how rubbish the study is.
 
The data not only fail to show a consistent increase in the 3 of 9 biomarkers they picked, they also show no evidence of endothelial inflammation (IL-16 is produced by many cells, including lymphocytes that would be expected to be activated by vaccines (or infection) let along T-cell infiltration of cardiac muscle (that's basically made up).
 
And they get the side effects of the vaccine wrong.  Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia is a (very rare) side effect of the adenovirus vaccines not the mRNA vaccines. Myocarditis is a rare side effect of the mRNA vaccines, hard to distinguish from the background rate in the population, and COVID-19 produces about 4 times the rate of myocarditis as seen with the vaccine.

Take home message: While we might expect to see some inflammation after vaccination, this abstract can't even show that, let alone show it has anything to do with the heart. In short, it is nonsense.

EDIT: I have now seen the poster, it's worse. The poster is basically the abstract with two panels showing data reports from patients. The data is already in a transformed state, reported as a "%event rate ratio", with no indication of how you get from pg/ml IL-16 to an event rate ratio and then get to an "above the norm" figure with no units. Patient 1's data is identical pre and post-vaccine with the same ACS risk. Patient 2 has the same risk rations pre and post, despite having a different profile AND Patient 2's ACS risk is identical to patient 1's. Furthermore, both Patient 1 and Patient 2 reports were generated at exactly the same date and time, which is ... unlikely.

The only "evidence" for T-cell infiltration of cardiac tissue is the marginally elevated HGF score, which is probably not statistically significant. But HGF (Hepatocyte Growth Factor) is elevated in a range of inflammatory states (eg pancreatitis) and says nothing about T-cell infiltration of cardiac tissue in and of itself. 

Revised Take Home Message: Still nonsense.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

 

Thursday November 25 to Thursday December 2

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday, November 27.  Three bright planets are seen forming a line in the early evening sky. Venus is readily visible in the early evening sky above the  handle of the teapot of Sagittarius. Saturn and Jupiter are visible in the western evening sky with Jupiter dominating once Venus has set.

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday, November 27.

Evening sky on Saturday, November 27 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:53 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset).  Venus is above the handle of the "teapot" of Sagittarius forming a line with Saturn and Jupiter.

 The insets shows the telescopic views of Venus, Saturn and Jupiter at this time. Venus is a distinct crescent now and Ganymede is coming out from behind Jupiter. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen). 

Whole sky showing Jupiter, Saturn and Venus in a line , November 27, 21:53 ACDST, 90 minutes after sunset (click to embiggen). Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades can be seen above the eastern horizon.

 

 

 

 Elsewhere in Australia will see a similar planetary line up that the equivalent time (90 minutes after sunset).  

Mercury  is lost in the morning twilight.

Venus is visible in the early evening when the sky is fully dark.  I have been able to see Venus from just after sunset and it is easily seen over 3 hours after sunset, longer if you have a clear western horizon.  Venus is above the handle of the teapot of Sagittarius, forming a line with Saturn and Jupiter. It is now a distinct crescent in even small telescopes.

Mars is lost in the twilight.
   
Jupiter is rising before sunset and is readily visible when the sky is fully dark. Venus, Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the sky. Jupiter is still excellent in even small telescopes, but the window of telescopic observation is closing as it sets earlier.
 
Saturn is rising well before sunset. Saturn is still excellent in even small telescopes, but the window of telescopic observation is closing as it sets earlier.  
 
Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


 

Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to the current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

Thursday, November 18, 2021

 

No, you can't "Detox" from the COVID vaccines (or any other vaccine)

You may have heard of people offering "Detoxes" to"remove" the COVID vaccines. These range from "Detox" baths of Epsom salts and/or Borax, to snake venom removal kits, to the ancient technique of cupping.

None work, some are dangerous and all are based on a complete misunderstanding of how vaccines work.

The currently available vaccines are mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna), and adenovirus vector vaccines (AstraZeneca, Jannsen). In the first two, the mRNA from the spike protein is encapsulated in a lipid shell, in the latter two this is carried in a viral particle.
When the injection is given into the muscle tissue of your arm the vaccine solution containing the vectors (be they lipid nanoparticles or virtual particles) rapidly distributes into the extracellular water (the fluids between the cells in tissues) and the particles bind to cells and deliver the mRNA into the cells.By the time a "detox" method is applied, most of the vector particles will have already delivered their mRNA payloads into the cells.Borax, Epsom salts, and the like "detoxes"  act by being a hypertonic solution (ie being much "saltier" than your tissue fluid), drawing body water out as your body tries to dilute the concentrated salt solution it is immersed in.
But this is the issue, these salt baths will remove water, but not large molecules like the lipid or viral particles (any that have not already been taken up), these cannot pass the tissue barriers In your body (if anything, it will concentrate the vaccine components slightly in your tissues). While Epsom salts are largely benign on the skin, Borax can cause skin and eye irritation, and some people have reported skin burns from its use. It definitely should not be consumed.Snake venom extraction kits have been also proposed to "suck out the vaccine", they apply negative pressure to draw fluid out,  as for the detox baths they will not draw out any vaccine, just a little (if any) tissue water and possibly concentrate the vaccine. They don't work for snakebite either and may cause tissue damage.https://www.snakebitefoundation.org/blog/2019/1/20/the-truth-about-commercial-snakebite-kits-and-venom-extractorsCupping has also been proposed to remove vaccines. In cupping heated cups are placed on the skin to create a partial vacuum next to the body as the air inside the cups cools down. This might draw out a little body water but will not remove the vaccine. If anything it might increase vaccine absorption. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2296526-covid-19-vaccine-tested-with-suction-technique-similar-to-cupping/
Cupping tends to leave large bruises from bursting blood vessels, a version called wet cupping involves cutting the skin to draw blood before applying suction with the cups. This will draw some blood from the broken surface capillaries but not draw out the extracellular fluid from deep in the muscle where the vaccine was injected.

So bottom line: Vaccine "detoxes" at the best will increase the uptake of the vaccine and at the worst cause harm, without removing any vaccine.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

 

Twilight Lunar exclipse (19 November, 2021)

Evening sky on November 19 looking east as seen Adelaide at 20:31 ACDST, at civil twilight. Click to embiggen.
Evening sky on November 19 looking east as seen Brisbane at 19:02 AEST, at mid eclipse
Evening sky on November 19 looking east as seen Melbourne at 20:43 AEST, at civil twilightEvening sky on November 19 looking east as seen from Sydney at 20:02 AEDST at mid eclipse

Thus Friday (19 November) we have a twilight Partial Lunar Eclipse, while its is a very deep partial eclipse, almost total, it will be difficult to see as most of the eclipse occurs in the twilight (see times for major cities below, bolded times are for mid-eclipse occurring after civil twilight). 

The Moon rises eclipsed and the shadow slips off the Moon during twilight. Best seen from the east coast, the central states see the final parts of the eclipse in twilight and Western Australia sees virtually nothing. Still will be interesting to see for eastern and central states though.

You don't need special filters or fancy equipment to watch the lunar eclipse, you just need your eyes and somewhere comfortable to sit and watch. Watching the shadow of earth creep across the Moons' face is quite entrancing. 

As most of the eclipse occur in the twilight, the eclipsed section of the Moon will be a ghostly ashen colour against the lighted segment (rather than the reddish colour seen after full dark), which adds an extra element to this eclipse. The Moon may be difficult to spot on the East Coast as it rises eclipsed in the east.This is also almost an apogee full Moon ("mini Moon") with apogee occurring on the 21st.

City

Eclipse start

Moon rise

Mid eclipse

Civil twilight

Eclipse end

Nautical twilight

Adelaide ACDST

17:48

19:59

19:32

20:31

21:17

21:06

Brisbane AEST

17:18

18:14

19:02

18:46

20:47

19:16

Cairns AEST

17:18

18:26

19:02

18:54

20:47

19:22

Canberra AEDST

18:18

19:46

20:02

20:20

21:47

20:55

Darwin ACST

16:48

18:51

18:32

19:16

20:17

19:43

Freemantle AWST

15:18

18:58

17:02

19:25

18:47

19:58

Hobart AEDST

18:18

19:43

20:02

20:21

21:47

21:03

Melbourne AEDST

18:18 AEDST

20:09

20:02

20:43

21:47

21:19

Perth AWST

15:18

18:58

17:02

19:25

18:47

19:58

Sydney AEDST

18:18

19:34

20:02

20:07

21:47

20:41

 

 

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