Category Astrology

How do astronomers know the size of the universe?

How big is the Universe? Many astronomers think it has no end, so its real size cannot be measured. But it is possible to measure the diameter of the observable Universe by calculating the distance between the farthest known objects in all directions.

The light from the most distant galaxies has travelled 15 to 20 million galaxies light years before it reaches the Earth. So the diameter of the Universe, as far as we can see, is as much as 40 million million light years, or 378 million million million million kilometres.


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How Astronomers weigh stars?

The stars in any double-star system, such as Cygnus X-1 and HDE 226868, swing around their common centre of gravity. If the stars are equally massive, their centre of gravity lies halfway between them. If not, it lies closer to the heavier star. So a double-star system forms a natural balance which allows astronomers to ‘weigh’ stars. By studying the motion of the star HDE 226868, astronomers found that the centre of gravity lay so close to the star that it suggested its companion must be half the weight, or mass, of the star itself.

HDE 226868 is a type of the star called a blue super giant. It is 20 million miles (32 million km) across and shines 50,000 times more brilliantly than the Sun. A blue super giant is about 20 times heavier than the Sun. That is, it has 20 times the mass of the Sun. So if its invisible companion, the black hole Cygnus X-1, is half this weight, it must weigh as much as ten Suns.

The Sun itself weighs as much as 300,000 Earths or 1989 million million million million tons. Astronomers calculate this figure by using the theory of gravity. Careful experiments in the laboratory have revealed the gravitational pull between two large lead spheres of known masses. This force depends partly on the distance between them. This experiment can be ‘scaled up’ so that the distance between the spheres becomes the distance of the Earth from the Sun. It can then be deduced how massive the Sun must be in order to exert the gravitational pull needed to keep the Earth and the other planets in orbit around it.


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Why does an astronaut need a space suit?

A space suit enables an astronaut to survive by providing him artificially with conditions like those he is used to on earth.

    These conditions can be reproduced in a large space craft or space station in orbit, but an astronaut still needs a space suit for operations outside the craft or for an emergency.

     In space men lack the air needed for breathing, the pressure required to stop their blood from boiling and the natural protection of the atmosphere against radiation. All these must be supplied by the space suit which also must withstand the cold of space.

     When an astronaut ventures into space, he leaves behind the safety of the atmospheric blanket which we, on earth, take for granted. His space suit becomes his own personal little world.


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What are the main differences between astronomy and astrology?

In astrology (dating back to ancient times), only heavenly phenomena and movements visible to the naked eye are considered. Hence the planets beyond Saturn that can only be seen with telescopes do not figure in astrology. Astrology also places great importance on the visual pattern (constellations) of the heavenly objects in the night sky, whereas they are of least significance to astronomers. The heavenly objects recognized by astrologers also include objects like “Rahu” and “Ketu” considered non-existent by astronomers. The movements of the heavenly objects are believed by astrologer’s manner, whereas according to astronomers such a contention has no scientific basis and any astrological correlations are considered purely coincidental.

What is Palmistry?

            The art of fortune-telling through reading one’s palm began some 2,500 years ago in India which gradually spread to other parts of the world. Palmistry is the science of palm-reading with the objective of studying one’s character and inherent nature, discovering his true potential and making future predictions about the person.

            Some famous palmists like Cheiro have strengthened the credibility of palmistry through their successful predictions over a long period of time. In palm-reading a theoretical knowledge accompanied by good practice help to make accurate predictions. But a fundamental question often arises: which hand should be studied — the right or the left? According to Western palmists, the left is the hand we are born with and the right is the hand what we make of ourselves. But the Indian palmists opine that the left hand of the females and right hand of the males should be taken into consideration for palm-reading.

            The palm has several lines and mounts as well as different markings on it. All these along with their shapes and sizes provide the clue for making predictions. Among the major lines of the hand, the most prominent are the Line of Life, Line of Heart, Line of Head and Line of Fate etc. There are seven mounts named after the gods of Greek mythology and they provide an insight into the inherent traits and qualities of a person. The different lines on the palm tell us about the person’s life situations at various stages of life as well as his characteristics. The different markings like a star, a grille, a square, an island etc. at different locations signify various positive and negative events in one’s life.

            To be more specific, the Line of Life shows vitality and longevity, the Line of Heart indicates the physical condition of the heart as well as one’s emotional state, the Line of Head helps to judge the mental trails and capabilities and the Line of Fate indicates the wealth and fortune one has in store. Similarly different mounts stand for different characteristics, e.g. Mount of Jupiter stands for intellectualism, Mount of Mars stands for valour and courage, Mount of Venus shows love and affection, Mount of Luna indicates the psychological state etc. The various markings on the hand symbolize different things depending on their location on the palm. The fingers and the thumb also provide vital clues for making accurate predictions.

            Though some palmists have tried to provide a scientific basis to palmistry by showing a correlation between the lines on the hand and the astronomical influence on human body at the time of birth yet it has not been accepted scientifically. Sometimes the palmists tell us about the condition of the heart by analyzing the shape and growth of nails which is also the procedure followed by the medical practitioners. But on the whole palmistry still continues to entertain people for the simple reason that it unfolds the mysterious future which attracts the popular attention.