The New Zodiac
The New Zodiac, or "Unzodiac" as it is also known, was developed in the late 17th century by Ruaridh Hay of Drumrunie, a Scottish scholar and astrologer who was noted for his unorthodox approach to all facets of life.
Ruaridh believed that the traditional Zodiac contained many flaws – a claim with which few scholars would disagree – and that these flaws could be rectified simply by altering the shape of the ecliptic – a claim with which almost all scholars would disagree.
After many years of observation and calculation, Ruaridh produced a New Zodiac which excluded many of the major constellations and included several minor ones. It was met with universal scorn. According to contemporary reports the new chart was much liked by his dog Kenneth, though modern scholars consider this to be a misreading of "licked".
There is some controversy over the constellations depicted in the New Zodiac, since several had not yet been discovered or named in Ruaridh's time. Some copies of the chart bear the name George Hay, who may have further developed his ancestor's work.
Though for many years rejected as unscientific and unzodiacal nonsense, the New Zodiac has continued to attract an extremely small but tenacious group of followers who are keen to see Ruaridh's work accepted by mainstream society. This is unlikely to happen, since these people have customarily been incarcerated and allowed little contact with the outside world.
Constellations of the New Zodiac
Leo: a Northern constellation and member of the traditional Zodiac, representing the lion.
Lynx: named after the animal, introduced in the 17th century by Johannes Hevelius.
Auriga: the charioteer, included by Ptolemy in his list of 48 constellations.
Perseus: named after the Greek mythological hero, included by Ptolemy in his list of 48 constellations.
Triangulum: named after its three brightest stars which form a triangle, included by Ptolemy in his list of 48 constellations.
Pisces: a Northern constellation and member of the traditional Zodiac, representing fishes.
Aquarius: a Northern constellation and member of the traditional Zodiac, representing a water-carrier or cup-bearer.
Microscopium: a Southern constellation, representing the microscope, introduced in the 18th century by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille.
Telescopium: a Southern constellation, representing the telescope, introduced fully extended in the 18th century by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille, later collapsed for ease of transport.
Cattus Sinapis: a Southern constellation, representation obscure, introduced in the 20th century by Sir Reginald Twat.
Hydra: the largest of the modern constellations, in the Southern hemisphere, representing the mythological water serpent, included by Ptolemy in his list of 48 constellations.
Corvus: a Southern constellation, representing the crow or raven, included by Ptolemy in his list of 48 constellations.
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Further details about the constellations of the New Zodiac
Right ascension: 11h
Brightest star: α Leo (Regulus)
Right ascension: 8h
Brightest star: α Lyn
Declination: +56º - 27º
Right ascension: 4h- 7h
Brightest star: α Aur (Capella)
Right ascension: 3h
Brightest star: α Per (Mirfak)
Declination: +25º - 37º
Right ascension: 1h - 2h
Brightest star: β Tri
Right ascension: 1h
Brightest star: η Psc (Alpherg)
Declination: +3 - -24º
Right ascension: 20h - 23h
Brightest star: β Aqr (Sadalsuud)
Right ascension: 21h
Brightest star: γ Mic
Right ascension: 19h
Brightest star: α Tel
The Mustard Cat
Right ascension: 15h
Brightest star: α Cts
Right ascension: 8h - 15h
Brightest star: α Hya (Alphard)
Right ascension: 12h
Brightest star: γ Crv
These notes have been ascribed to Ruaridh Hay, but may contain later accretions. Their meaning, if any, is a matter of much conjecture amongst his adherents.
Ruaridh Hay developed a number of astrological and astronomical theories to justify his New Zodiac. However they may have been received at the time, they have proven to be quite unintelligible to modern readers, although a handful of scholars and other inmates believe they are close to partially understanding some of them.
A major complication to Ruaridh's theories – if indeed they make any sense whatever – is that he worked on the basis of the brightest star in each constellation as being its primary star, and under the assumption that the brightest is the alpha star. In his day, this was usually (though not always) the case, but since his time we have redefined the magnitudes of many stars, and in some cases redefined the constellations, so that, for example, alpha Normae no longer exists. Ruaridh seems to have been unaware of the discrepancies of magnitude, denomination and importance, and always based his calculations of co-ordinates on a constellation's alpha star.
Ruaridh also believed that a star's right ascension (as it is now termed) was far more important than its declination, that ascensions could actually be added together to form numerologically significant results, and that an ascension's hours, minutes and seconds (he always ignored decimal places) could be converted to letters of the alphabet which – to him – spelled out arcane messages from the heavens.
Ruaridh was fascinated by numerology, grammomancy, ciphers and codes, and spent much of his time attempting to combine them into a unified theory of "knowing everything", as he put it. He claimed that his interest in these matters was instilled by the writings of an ancestor, but he did not record the identity of that ancestor. Indeed, other than a small body of work on the New Zodiac, Ruaridh recorded very little for posterity, and much of what we know about him is based on a considerable amount of speculation.
We do have it on good authority that he was also known as Roderick, was a fine fiddler, and froze to death in his observatory in 1678.
It was not our intention to write at length about Ruaridh Hay, but we have a lot of space left and there is little more to say about the Unzodiac.
Some observations on the Planets
Did you know that for the first half of the Eighteenth Century there were eleven planets? There were the six traditional planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, so that makes 7. In 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the 8th; and within a few years, Heinrich Olbers discovered the 9th (1802), Karl Harding discovered the 10th (1804), and then Olbers discovered the 11th (1807). These bodies orbited between Mars and Jupiter and were named Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta, respectively. And for over 40 years, they were considered to be planets.
However, starting in the mid- to late-1840s, more of these objects were discovered. By 1850 there were 10 of them in total, and by 1860, there were 57. The original four objects were demoted from being planets and are now simply referred to as being asteroids. They reside in the asteroid belt with hundreds of thousands of other such bodies.
If any of this sounds familiar, it's because this is exactly what happened with Pluto.
At first, when Pluto was discovered, based upon its actual brightness and what astronomers believed to be the most likely darker color of its surface, Pluto was estimated to be the size of the earth. Then, as observations and measuring techniques got better and better, that size estimate fell to being the size of Mars, then Mercury, then our Moon.
This is because a lot of Pluto's surface is made up of frozen water ice and nitrogen ice. Pluto has a very high albedo – the percentage of sunlight that reflects off of its surface. Earth's albedo is pretty high at 30% – we've got lots of oceans reflecting lots of light. But Pluto's albedo is much higher, estimated to be at about 50-60%. Because astronomers thought that Pluto would be much darker than it actually is, the fact that it was brighter than expected led them to believe that it was much larger.
In fact, it turns out that Pluto is even smaller than our own moon. If you placed Pluto on top of Australia (assuming that Australia really exists), you would still be able to easily see Perth and the entire west coast on one side and Melbourne and the entire east coast on the other. It doesn't come anywhere near close to covering Australia, earth's smallest continent. Thatís how small Pluto is.
Starting in the 1990s, hundreds of other bodies were discovered orbiting the sun way out Pluto's way, in an area of the solar system that was called the Kuiper Belt. To those that argue that we don't make a designation of something because of where it is, rather than what it is, they are dead wrong. Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta are living proof and would demand justice if the reverse were true.
Just like the asteroids, Pluto is one of many objects within a vast belt of them. The asteroids are in the asteroid belt; Pluto is in the Kuiper Belt. Pluto gets downgraded from being a planet, and that's that. However, now Pluto is the King of the Kuiper Belt. As Milton said (via Kirk in the original Khan episode), it is better to rule in hell than to serve in Heaven. The underworld is now all Pluto's!
Some observations on fish
The herring is a forage fish, mostly belonging to the family Clupeidae. Herring often move in large schools around fishing banks and near the coast. The most abundant and commercially important species belong to the genus Clupea, found particularly in shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans, including the Baltic Sea, as well as off the west coast of South America. Three species of Clupea are recognised, and provide about 90% of all herrings captured in fisheries. Most abundant of all is the Atlantic herring, providing over half of all herring capture. Fishes called herring are also found in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and Bay of Bengal.
Herring played a pivotal role in the history of marine fisheries in Europe, and early in the 20th century, their study was fundamental to the evolution of fisheries science. These oily fish also have a long history as an important food fish, and are often salted, smoked, or pickled.